British Drone Users Facing Dramatic Changes to Law

Once again drones are swooping into the headlines with further changes to the laws regulating their use in the United Kingdom. Introduced by the Department of Transport, the new laws will come into effect by Summer 2018 and Winter 2019.

As part of an amendment to the existing Air Navigation Order of 2016, the main changes will include:

  • From 30th July 2018, drones will be banned from exceeding heights of 400ft, as well as from flying within 1km of airport boundaries.
  • From the 30th November 2019, owners of drones weighing over 250g will have to register their drone with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and complete an online safety test.

For users who fail to comply with the height and airport restrictions, they may face an unlimited fine and/or up to five years in prison.

Similarly, if drone operators fail to register their vehicles and complete the online safety test, fines of up to £1000 will be applied.

“We welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides as it leaves no doubt that anyone flying a drone must stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields,” said Gatwick Airport Chief Operating Officer Chris Woodroofe.

But it doesn’t stop there. As detailed in the recent policy paper, Industrial Strategy: the Grand Challenges, future changes are to be expected.

For instance, an all new Drone Bill to be published this Summer will contain a wealth of new laws, such as giving police more powers to stop reckless or inappropriate drone use.

Also, drone pilots will be required to use apps, to “access the information needed” to ensure all flights are made “safely and legally”.

Although drone manufacturers DJI have responded positively to the coming changes, criticism of the constantly evolving laws has arisen in the past, with GoPro citing the “hostile regulatory environment” as a partial reason for quitting the drone business.

If you’re looking to (legally!) take your photography to the skies in the near future, then check our helpful tutorial here.

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Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

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