ROYAL Mail have announced the launch of a fully electric drone delivery project in a Scottish island community.

The project, in collaboration with Skyports Drone Services, is said to be the first of its kind in the UK which can be conducted on a permanent basis under existing regulatory frameworks.

The daily service will distribute mail between three islands in Orkney and is funded by the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation Fund.

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Letters and parcels will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness, where Skyports Drone Services will conduct drone deliveries to Royal Mail staff on Graemsay and Hoy. Postal workers will then carry out their usual island delivery routes from these locations.

The project will initially run for three months, with the intent to extend in the future.

The drone which will be used to deliver mail – a Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft – can carry weights of up to 6kg.

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The project is expected to have a significant impact on distribution services in the area, which are often impacted by the geography and climate of Orkney.

For example, the ferry service – by which some mail is delivered – can often be delayed or cancelled as a result of poor weather.

Project organisers claim that the launch of the drone delivery service will shorten delivery times for some of the communities in Orkney and improve rural access.

In addition to emissions savings, Royal Mail also claims that the new delivery service will significantly improve safety for postal workers, minimising the risk workers face delivering between marinas and ports.

Chris Paxton, head of drone trials at Royal Mail, said: “We are proud to be working with Skyports to deliver via drone to some of the more remote communities that we serve in the UK.

“Using a fully electric drone supports Royal Mail’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with our operations, whilst connecting the island communities we deliver to.”