A HISTORIC Keighley mill could form part of a project which is set to help Bradford district become a world-leading hub for the drone industry.

Earlier this year, Bradford Council was among five areas designated “drone cities” – which will test the technology and how it can be applied in a variety of different fields, from emergency responses to regeneration of mills.

The group behind the project, Nesta, has just published the findings from the first phase of the Flying High programme.

It says Bradford could use drone technology to attract more high-tech businesses to the area, map out the district’s disused buildings to promote them for future development, and even become a vital part of how emergency services react to fires and floods.

And the report gives the examples of Dalton Mills in Keighley, and empty buildings in North Parade, Bradford, as being areas where drones could be used to map the insides of disused and hard-to-access sections and show off their potential to buyers.

Bradford Council is currently working with Nesta and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service on exploring the benefits of drones and the work is set to massively expand in the coming year.

Nesta says one of the most important functions drones could have in the district is supporting fire and rescue services.

The report says drones could be flown to the scene of a blaze, arriving faster than firefighters. They would then relay images of the fire back to headquarters, allowing firefighters to see the scale and severity of an incident before they arrive at the scene. It gives an example of the Boxing Day floods of 2015 as a situation where drone technology could have helped the emergency service response.

Bradford Fire Station is suggested as a possible base for the district’s fire service drone fleet, and the report estimates that the drones could be sent out to ten incidents a day.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “This project is about exploring possibilities and being forward thinking and we are pleased to have been asked to be a part of such innovative work.”