Safety Tests for UK Drone Users to Be Introduced

With the introduction of drones, a miniature revolution has occurred in the world of nature photography. Taking to the sky, photographers have opened a treasure chest of breathtaking perspectives and unimaginable possibilities.

However, as always, this photographic treasure comes at a price. As new drones fly onto the scene almost every week, so do the problems. From near misses with airplanes, to criminals delivering drugs to prisoners, the world of drones can be a dangerous place.

The UK government has legislation in the works set to significantly update their existing drone laws, affecting all users in the process.

drone laws in uk

To be published in spring 2018, the bill would require owners of drones weighing over 250g to register their craft and sit a safety test. This measure would affect almost all serious drone users, so take note if you love hovering through the skies for those sweeping vistas.

In addition to this, drones will be refused from flying above 400ft to prevent problems with aircraft.

So far in 2017 there have been 81 reported near-miss incidents between drones and aircraft, a significant increase from 71 in 2016.

The bill is welcome news to the Pilots’ Union. Their general secretary, Brian Strutton, told BBC News that “these proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains.”

Although rules are currently in place, often users ignore them or are unaware and cause a serious risk to public safety.

The legislation will also help tackle drone-related crime, giving the police powers to confiscate and ground drones from the sky if suspected of criminal activity.

“At the moment we’re using other bits of legislation – the Civil Aviation Authority’s – to enable us to take action,” said Serena Kennedy, Assistant Chief Constable of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

“This draft legislation will give us the powers we need to tackle drones when they are being used for criminal purposes.”

This could mean police using “geo-fencing” to prevent drone activity in no-fly zones, using GPS co-ordinates.

Head of European public policy at DJI, Christian Struwe, is positive about the coming changes. In an interview for BBC Breakfast, he stated:

“The good thing is that as an industry we are already working on it. We can limit how high they can fly.”

He highlighted how at the moment there is no “hard limit” on drones flying close to airports, and is pleased about the new laws to combat “bad use”, emphasising the importance in increasing awareness on rules and regulations surrounding their use.

The government is also eager to introduce drone deliveries alongside the new law, from your new bit of gear to human organs!

“We’re bringing forward this legislation in order to ensure that drones can be used safely, whilst also addressing some of the safety and privacy concerns that people have,” said transport minister, Lady Sugg.

So if you’re a regular drone user, getting to grips with your new drone, or looking to one day invest, make sure you brush up on the law to prevent any potential problems.

Once you’ve got them down to a tee, make sure to check out our helpful video tutorial on the top tips for drone photography. Happy flying!

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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