The UK government has agreed to invest in the development of a Drone Port at Montrose in Scotland.
The government has set aside GBP 5.6 million out of the GBP 26.5 million Angus Fund to promote North Angus and Montrose as a clean growth zone where new technologies can be used to improve energy efficiency.
This includes support for developing the Mercury Drone Port which is expected to benefit the emerging offshore wind developments and create a regulated testing area to attract companies from across the UK.
Mercury Drone Port would be Scotland’s first drone port and the UK’s first drone port that focuses primarily on the application and testing of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) technology for offshore, marine, agriculture, and rural applications.
Initially, drones are likely to be used for low risk, offshore purposes including offshore inspection and deliveries to vessels at anchor (one to five kilometres offshore), offshore wind farms (30 to 80 kilometres offshore), and oil and gas platforms (100 to 200 kilometres offshore).
In the future, drones could potentially be used to carry passengers.
The port will provide developers and UAS operators with dedicated ‘drone friendly’ airspace. The port also plans to provide ground-based support facilities.
These will be designed primarily to facilitate the development of operating UAS Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and autonomously in unsegregated airspace.
Airspace will be trialled from zero to twelve kilometres from shore, with segregated drone corridors to wind farms and oil and gas platforms. Planning and application is currently underway.
The project is being developed by the Angus Council and Drone Technologies Ltd (DTL), with assistance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
According to DTL director Richard Stark, development of the Seagreen wind farm off the Angus coast and the renewables opportunities which will emerge from that project were a “catalyst” for the plan.