The use of 'drones' is becoming increasingly popular as they become more affordable. Just like any other aircraft, a drone must always be flown in a safe manner, both with respect to other aircraft in the air and also to people and properties on the ground.
There are two sets of regulation which apply to the use of drones in the UK, whether they are being used for commercial or recreational purposes:
- aviation regulations which are enforced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); and
- data protection regulations which apply where the drone is used for capturing personal data and are enforced by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
Anyone using a drone needs to follow basic safety rules which are summarised in the CAA's Dronecode.
Bye-laws exist on our own land which precludes the flying of model aircraft. If you want to fly a drone on or over land that we do not own, our advice is to seek permission from the landowner, especially where there is potential for disturbance to other people or wildlife. The National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) require that you obtain a licence from them.
Drones or model aircraft should not be flown on or over Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs) without consent from Natural England.
If you have any concerns about the use of drones in any area, either from a safety or privacy perspective, then you should contact your local police. The CAA does not investigate complaints of drone misuse.
The British Model Flying Association offers advice and guidance on the current legal situation regarding drones and model aircraft.