Northumbrian Water has successfully carried out the maiden test flight of a drone, aimed at improving the quality of the North East’s rivers and coastal waters.

In collaboration with Makutu and Skyports Drone Services, the utilities company is exploring the use of drones for at-scale, real-time water quality assessments, a world-first for this industry.

Termed 'Project Kingfisher' by partner organisations, the drones use sensors, AI and data analytics to conduct an extensive water quality monitoring programme of crucial coastal and inland sites.

Mr Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director at Northumbrian Water, said: "We’re just as passionate as our customers about protecting the environment and improving river and coastal water quality so to have these test flights underway is really exciting."

Currently, the company can only survey water quality manually, which proves difficult reaching remote areas, or during inclement weather.

The use of drones will reportedly improve access, minimise carbon footprint, and offer more data more rapidly over larger areas.

Mr Warneford said: "We’re proud to be making history with this project and we can’t wait to begin rolling it out officially across the North East – it’s just another step towards having the cleanest rivers and beaches in the country."