Argyll and Bute Council continues to develop and receive recognition for its innovative work in developing drone technology, to help deliver critical services to remote and rural communities.
In 2021, the council, working with drone specialists Skyports in a UK first, successfully trialled the use of drones to deliver school meals. The project gained national recognition with the council now nominated for a 2023 COSLA Excellence Award, in the Service, Innovation and Improvement category.
The council has ambitious plans to create the UK’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) logistics and training hub at Oban Airport with funding from Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal.
New funding of £250,000, secured by Argyll and Bute Council through a competitive bid process, from the UK Government’s Regulator’s Pioneer Fund, will now enable further trials to take place later this year. The trials will help establish additional uses for drones across remote and rural parts of the area.
Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council:
“Our geography and ongoing budget cuts mean we need to develop innovative solutions to reach our remote and rural communities. We are extremely ambitious in our plans to establish the first UK UAV logistics and training hub, creating ground breaking opportunities.
Here in Argyll and Bute, we are demonstrating what is possible. We know that delivering school meals by drone was a UK first and it’s fantastic to see the hard work recognised in our award nomination. We now want to explore what else is possible and look at the benefits to our communities and wider industry.
The new funding will enable us to prove that drones can co-exist with piloted general aviation and deliver essential services in minimal time. At the same time, as we work across services to reduce carbon emissions, the use of green technology will help us achieve net zero by 2045.”
The new trials will explore a number of potential services including delivery operations for cargo, surveying and surveillance of infrastructure, to help with ongoing maintenance of roads and bridges, and monitoring of marine and agricultural environments.
The council will also continue to work with interested external stakeholders to further develop the use of drones in delivering essential items including medical equipment, test results and mail.
Planning permission is in place for the drone logistics and training hub, based at Oban Airport and a business case for its operation is currently with the Scottish Government for approval.