Consultation on safe use of drones
Further restrictions proposed
The government is to consult on new measures to prevent the misuse of drones, including on-the-spot fines and the ability to seize them if necessary.
The new measures are intended to ensure drones are being used safely in a market set to grow rapidly over the next decade.
Drones have the potential to bring great benefits to the UK, and with the industry predicted to be worth £42 billion to the UK by 2030, creating a blueprint for safe and secure use now is crucial to prepare for the future.
The measures in the consultation launched on 26 July 2018 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
The proposals are part of a package of work from the government to ensure drones are flown safely as they become used more frequently.
On 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 five years imprisonment.
Drones form part of the government’s Future of Mobility grand challenge and are currently being used for a broad range of purposes across different industry sectors including:
- Costain use drones for inspections at Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station, saving 50% of costs compared to the use of helicopters or human inspection teams
- the inspection of a wind turbine typically costs over £1,000 per tower - performing the same inspection using a drone cuts the cost by around 50%
- Network Rail are using drones to improve track maintenance and boost field worker efficiency, whilst reducing the amount of work at height required on Network Rail’s assets