Home Technology Government set to consult on safe use and effective regulation of drones

Government set to consult on safe use and effective regulation of drones

by Brian Sims

The Government is to consult on new measures designed 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 that’s set to grow rapidly over the next decade.

Drones have the potential to bring great benefits to the UK. With the drones industry predicted by PwC 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 Thursday 26 July 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 the following:

*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 from 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

Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said: “Drones present exciting benefits to our society and our economy, but with a small group of people choosing to use them for harm there are challenges we must overcome if we’re to prevent them hindering the potential of this technology. That’s why we’ve already introduced safety measures like a height limit, and rules around airports. Now, we’re consulting on how we go further, including extra police powers and a minimum age requirement.”

Strong framework for development

Drones are already being used for a myriad of exciting applications, from inspecting national infrastructure like railways and power stations through to aiding disaster relief by speeding up the delivery of blood.

The industry has the potential to be worth billions to the UK economy so it’s vital that it develops with a strong framework to encourage innovation and growth while keeping people safe.

The police and security personnel already have powers to address the misuse of drones, but these new proposals will reinforce the importance of complying with drone safety rules, while also creating a tailored toolkit to ensure those rules are duly observed.

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 Monday 30 July, updates to the Air Navigation Order also come into force, in turn 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.

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