Delivering medical equipment, transporting patients to hospital, transferring school pupils and welcoming tourists are just some of the critical roles air services play across Argyll and Bute.
Argyll and Bute Council operates the West Coast Air Service linking Coll, Colonsay, Tiree and Islay to Oban. A new consultation is asking communities and businesses to help shape the future of this service ahead of awarding a new contract.
The consultation is now live and available on the council website https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/consultations/argyll-and-bute-council-west-coast-air-services-pso
Feedback will help achieve the most benefit possible for all users, subject to council budgets.
The consultation considers a number of issues including:
- Current use of the air service
- Preferred flight times and days
- The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deliver services
Providing essential air services is particularly significant across Argyll and Bute where 56% or 26,000 annual referrals are to hospitals within the central belt.
Despite the air services being non statutory, Argyll and Bute Council operate Oban, Coll and Colonsay airports at a budget cost of £700k per annum. In addition, the Council subsidise the air services by over £2m over the length of the contract (4 Years).
To complement traditional air services, the Council is developing plans to create a UAV Hub at Oban Airport. The use of drones to deliver essential council services would reduce both time and operating costs.
During lockdown, the use of drones to fly medical samples from the islands to NHS facilities saved 11,000 in waiting time. Royal Mail is interested in UAV’s as part of their service delivery and have undertaken trials from Oban to Mull. The council is keen to hear opinion regarding future potential use of drones across Argyll and Bute.
The consultation closes Sunday 1 May 2022.