Arcadis to deliver UK’s first low-carbon aviation test centre in Scotland


Arcadis has secured a contract to plan, design and deliver the infrastructure needed to create UK’s first low-carbon aviation test centre in Scotland

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) appointed Arcadis to create the UK’s first operationally-based, low-carbon aviation test centre in Scotland.

It will be based at Kirkwall Airport in the Orkney Islands and is part a project known as SATE (Sustainable Aviation Test Environment), which aims to identify the next generation of air services, together with the operational airport infrastructure necessary to support sustainable aviation.

The £3.7m project is part-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Arcadis is working alongside a consortium of aviation industry specialists, which includes HIAL as well as local businesses, public sector bodies and academia. Together, members will explore how to implement zero-carbon airport infrastructure using green energy sources, and trial a host of new transport options. This will include testing low-carbon aircraft using electric, hydrogen or Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) to replace conventional fossil fuels, as well as drone applications for supplying on-demand medical supplies to health centres.

Arcadis will be providing multidisciplinary engineering services, including environmental and cost estimates to ensure the project is delivered and operated sustainably.

The test site itself will be situated on an area away from the main airport operations, with many of the new structures intended for later use elsewhere at the airport, following the conclusion of the project.

Kirkwall Airport was selected as an ideal test environment, due in part to its relatively quiet airspace but also because of its role as a hub airport, with a variety of short-haul routes connecting Orkney’s island communities.

The project will be crucial in addressing the challenge to improve UK regional air connectivity, as well as helping to decarbonise the Highlands and Islands region.

‘Support all opportunities for low-carbon development’

Paz Armenta, head of aviation design and engineering at Arcadis, said: “We have a well-established relationship with HIAL and are working with the team at a number of airports across the Highlands, including Sumburgh, Inverness, Campbeltown, and creating the masterplan for Barra airport, which has the only sand beach runway in the world.

“We are also working with the team at Kirkwall Airport itself, to conduct a review of assets and operations that will support its wider, phased redevelopment.

“This means that not only do we have a comprehensive understanding of the essential services that HIAL provides for local communities, but we also strongly support HIAL’s ambition to align with the Scottish Government’s net zero emissions targets and make all 11 of its airports carbon-neutral by 2040.

“We’re keen to support all opportunities for low-carbon development, and this project is integral not just for developing a Highlands and Islands sustainable aviation sector, but also supporting the transition to zero-carbon aviation across the whole UK.”

Minister for investment, Gerry Grimstone, added: “It is great that Arcadis are delivering this project for Scotland, where their expertise in the design and development of critical infrastructure will support our sustainable aviation strategy.

“This investment into the UK market will not only help us meet our net-zero ambitions, but also create high quality jobs for the future that will level up the whole of the UK.”


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