Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has been chosen to trial a groundbreaking project by the Royal Mail using drones to deliver mail. 

Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives and West Cornwall, has visited St Mary’s Airport to observe Royal Mail’s trial of the first out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight between the UK mainland and the Scilly Islands.

Royal Mail has also become the first to execute inter-island parcel deliveries across the Scillies, as part of the trial.

Mr Thomas saw first-hand how Royal Mail is trialling new technology to deliver the Universal Service Obligation to The Scilly Isles, a remote part of his St Ives constituency.

During the visit he saw the drone take-off and land early in the morning.

He was also able to see the drone unloaded. The drone has been used to deliver crucial PPE and COVID testing kits as well general mail to the Isles.

Derek Thomas MP for St Ives said: “Protecting the right for residents to receive their mail in a timely manner wherever they live is vital but we must find ways to do this in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.

"I’m delighted that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly are the hosts of this trial. Simply because our ambition to lead the way when it comes to delivering a green resilient economy knows no bounds.”

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He was briefed by Royal Mail’s Operations Manager for Cornwall, Stuart Sugden, Russ Schild, Manager Air Traffic Services & Airport St Mary’s Airport, and Charles Scales,CEO, Windracer, on how the trial has been going.

He also heard about the benefits drone delivery brings to customers living in remote areas and the environmental benefits of this type of delivery.

The trial will examine fuel efficiencies that the drones could provide, as part of Royal Mail’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with its operations.

The Government-funded project, has been developed in partnership with DronePrep, Skyports, Consortiq Limited, University of Southampton, Excalibur Healthcare Services and Windracers Limited.

If the trial is successful, the technology will be considered by Royal Mail to help identify opportunities to support postmen and postwomen in delivering to very remote areas and addresses across the UK.

In December, Royal Mail became the first nationwide UK parcel carrier to deliver a parcel for recipients via drone to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

In the coming months, a consultation will be undertaken with residents on the use of drones to deliver to rural communities on the island.

Stuart Sugden, Operations Manager for Cornwall at Royal Mail, said: “It was great to have Derek Thomas come and see the new technology Royal Mail is trailing on The Scilly Isles .

This trial is helping us to explore more environmentally friendly, efficient ways to deliver to remote parts of the UK, including The Scilly Isles, in all weathers.”