THE first drone port in Scotland is set to begin collecting and delivering medical supplies and samples for the NHS in a trial that hopes 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 David Fairweather described as a step in “transforming” the healthcare system for the region.

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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.

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.

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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.