Extra Powers to Prevent Drone Misuse Proposed

The government is consulting on new measures to prevent the misuse of drones, including on-the-spot fines and the ability to seize equipment.

The new measures are intended to ensure safe drone use in a market set to grow rapidly over the next decade, estimated by PwC to be worth £42 billion by 2030.

Drones are being increasingly used in the UK roofing industry and are now a mainstream way to survey roofs without risking dangerous work at height. The ability to use drone-mounted cameras means roofing contractors can supply photographic evidence of surveys and work to clients. On heritage projects, drones avoid disturbing sensitive sites, while risky fragile roof access is also circumvented.

However, the UK roofing sector was warned earlier this year that operators should be trained and ensure they are complying with drone law.

The measures in the consultation are part of a wider programme of new drone legislation and will shape the content of a draft Drones Bill due to be published later this year.

Proposed measures include:

  • police issuing fixed penalty notices to those disregarding drone rules
  • using new counter-drone technology to protect public events and critical national infrastructure and stop contraband reaching prisons
  • introducing minimum age restrictions for drone owners in addition to the new tests they will need to take
  • proposals for regulating and mandating the use of ‘apps’ on which pilots would file flight plans ahead of take-off

Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said: “Drones are already being used for a myriad of exciting applications from inspecting national infrastructure like railways and power stations, to aiding disaster relief by speeding up the delivery of blood.

“The industry has the potential to be worth billions to the UK economy so it is vital that it develops with a strong framework to encourage innovation and growth while keeping people safe.

“The police and security personnel already have powers to address the misuse of drones, but these new proposals will reinforce the importance of complying with drone safety rules, and create a tailored toolkit to ensure they are observed.”

On Monday 30 July 2018 updates to the Air Navigation Order also come into force – implementing new height and airport boundary restrictions. Those breaching these restrictions will face penalties of up to £2,500 and could also be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft, which can carry a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment.

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