First drone trials transporting medicine and supplies in Angus to begin

Scotland’s first drone port is set to begin trialling collection and delivery of medical supplies and samples for the NHS in an effort to improve current transportation methods.

Mercury Drone Ports, based in Montrose, Angus, will provide a trials airspace for drones to operate to and from multiple healthcare facilities between Angus and Dundee assisting with the response to Covid-19.

The first drone trials will begin in March, a move which Angus Council leader councillor David Fairweather described as a step in “transforming” the healthcare system for the region.

The new transportation method aims to provide the NHS with an on-demand collection and delivery service, allowing samples to be collected from local medical practices for analysis at pathology laboratories at larger hospitals via a quicker and more reliable service.

Man with drone
Daniel Salamanca, from the flight operations team at Skyports, prepares a drone before flight (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Fairweather, said: “This level of improvement could potentially allow life-saving treatment to be able to commence earlier by reducing testing times, speeding up diagnoses for patients, all at a reduced cost to the NHS by reducing the reliance on expensive taxi transportation that currently exists.

“As the significant demands continue for Covid-19 testing, we are delighted to lead the way through innovative technologies to increase connectivity with our rural facilities, at a time that the NHS requires greater support.”

Receiving funding from the UK Government’s £26.5 million Angus Fund, as part of the Tay Cities Region Deal, Mercury Drone Ports is a public-private partnership between Angus Council and UK-based drones company DTLX.

UK Government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said investment from south of the border into Mercury Drone Ports will put Scotland “at the forefront of innovation” and help bring in new jobs to Angus.

Scotland’s first drone port
Trials will begin next month (Jane Barlow/PA)

He added: “Drones have huge potential in Scotland, from connecting health services to remote communities, to helping maintain renewable energy installations, to assisting with Scottish aquaculture and environmental monitoring.”

Mr Stewart said the UK Government is also supporting the use of drones in the west of Scotland at Oban to improve services in communities across Scotland.

Mercury Drone Ports will be based within the ZeroFour Hub, a 123 acre commercial development site near Montrose which lies within 35 miles of both Aberdeen and Dundee and is run by a partnership between Angus Council and Crown Estate Scotland.

The new hub, along with the drone port, forms part of Angus Council’s long-term plans create renewable solutions for transportation and energy across Angus and the wider Tay Cities region.