Department for Transport opens consultation on drone safety and security to protect public

The Government plans to introduce new measures designed to ensure the successful uptake of drones is matched by strong safeguards to protect the public. Measures out for consultation on Wednesday 21 December include the mandatory registration of new drones, tougher penalties for illegal flying near no-fly zones and new signs for no-fly zones at sensitive sites such as airports and prisons and making drones electronically identifiable such that the owner’s details can be passed to police if they’re spotted breaking the law.

The consultation will also consider whether there’s a need for a new criminal offence to be introduced to penalise the misuse of drones.

The Government is determined to make the most of this emerging technology, which is estimated to be worth around £102 billion by 2025, but ministers are clear that drone technology will only be a success if it’s safe.

Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “Drones have enormous economic potential and are already being used by the Emergency Services, transport and energy providers and conservation groups to improve services, respond to incidents and save lives. While the majority of drone users are law-abiding and have good intentions, some operators are not aware of the rules, or choose to break them, subsequently putting public safety, privacy and security at risk. The Government is taking a common sense approach towards tackling such behaviour, ensuring the safe roll-out of this technology.”

Current regulations balance clear rules on safety and strong penalties for misuse, and companies using drones for commercial purposes need permission to ensure they’re operated responsibly.

Tim Johnson, policy director at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), stated: “Our priority is the safe operation of drones. We cannot underestimate the importance of understanding how to use drones safely and responsibly. The new CAA Drone Code, which forms part of our wider drone awareness campaign, is designed to help protect the safety of the wider aviation industry. Drones have significant potential to drive benefits across a range of sectors, from farming to emergency response and from healthcare to logistics. We encourage anyone with an interest in this area to respond to the Government’s consultation.”

The CAA’s Safety Code and the Drone Safe website, in addition to the recently-released NATS safety app for drone users entitled Drone Assist, are important tools in encouraging safe and legal drone use.

Andrew Sage, RPAS director at air traffic control company NATS, commented: “NATS fully supports the development of the drone industry and is committed to creating a safe and efficient airspace environment that meets the needs of both manned and unmanned aircraft operators. We would encourage all users of the UK’s airspace to respond to the consultation. It’s only by understanding all perspectives and working together that we’ll be able to find the solutions that will see successful manned and unmanned aviation industries both safely operating in the UK.”

*The Government’s consultation closes on Wednesday 15 March. Access the full detail here

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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