Consumer drones weighing under 20kg must be kept at least 50 metres away from people or their property, and 150 metres from congested areas or outdoor groups of more than 1,000 people.
With the growth of new technologies, traditional tasks, long done by human beings, with great effort, and at significant expense, is being done increasingly by computers and automated machines.
Factories are no longer reliant on manual labour, and we are seeing the conception of driverless cars, leaving those in old industries without work, replaced by cheaper and quicker machines.
One such industry is postal services, where drones are now all the rage. These devices are remotely controlled, and can be automated, flying machines, which can have things such as cameras or claws (to carry parcels) attached. They are also extremely popular for recreational use, being used to fly around and have fun, or to get cool looking aerial images or videos. It is thought that the drone industry will soon be worth $100bn, and that by 2030 there will be a billion drones in the sky.
Whilst slow to catch up to the emergence of drones in our society, the law is now starting to clamp down on drones. This has been especially necessary dangerous incidents like the near collision between a US fighter jet and a drone. New regulations have sought to limit the use of drones in some areas, to clarify the law around them and close loopholes, and to impose proper punishments for improper use of drones. Here’s a quick guide to some of the main laws on the use of it in the UK.
Up high and near airports
New amendments by the Department of Transport to the Air Navigation Order will come in to force later this year. The changes ban drones flying over 400 feet in the air, in an attempt to limit the possibility of a potentially catastrophic collision between a drone and a plane. The amendments will also prevent people from flying drones within one kilometer of an airport, restricting the interaction between drones and planes. Not only that, but drone pilots will have sit an online safety test to ensure they know the law and that they know how to use their device properly.
High profile cases have driven these changes, with Secretary of State Chris Grayling and his team clearly concerned about the possibility of drones getting lodged in the engine of a plane. There are no currently known fatalities or casualties as a result of collisions between planes and drones. The restrictions will come into place on the 30th of July, and pilots will be required to sit their test and register their drones by the 30th of November 2019.
Away from residential areas
Existing laws in the UK, as regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, also set out very clear restrictions on the use of drones in residential areas or near houses. Consumer drones weighing under 20kg must be kept at least 50 metres away from people or their property, and 150 metres from congested areas or outdoor groups of more than 1,000 people.
That means you could potentially be committing a criminal offence by flying a drone and filming near somebody’s home. It can sometimes be difficult to know when you’re breaking the law if you don’t know what distance your drone is from restricted areas, but it is your responsibility to ensure your drone is not encroaching on people’s privacy. Further, you must keep your drone within your eye line and it must be visible to you at all times during flight.