“The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the safe use of a range of counter-drone technology in the UK,” is the government’s official line.
“This crucial technology will detect drones from flying around sensitive sites, including airports and prisons, and develop a range of options to respond to drones, helping to prevent a repeat of incidents such as that recently experienced at Gatwick.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) says it and the CAA are also working to increase public awareness of drone laws, and they’ve written to airports and local authorities to “help to educate passengers and the public about responsible drone use”.
If you are planning to use a drone for commercial work, check out the CAA’s guide. As mentioned above, UK drone laws have been subject to regular changes, and further changes can be anticipated in the near future.
It was only as recently as 30th July 2018 that the government made it illegal to fly a drone above 400ft or within 1km of airport boundaries. While the former remains in place, the latter was quickly deemed to be insufficient.
Anyone who flouts that 400ft rule could be charged with “recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft”, and face a fine of up to £2,500 or up to five years in prison.
There will also be an annual charge for all drone registrations.
“The Government has provided a significant amount of taxpayer funding to cover the costs of developing the new drone registration scheme up until 1st October 2019,” the CAA explains. “From that date onwards, the costs of running the scheme will be borne by those who use it under the ‘user pays’ principle. This is because as a statutory body, the CAA has to recover its costs from those it regulates.”
The CAA says it will make a final decision on the registration scheme charges by 16th September 2019.
It’s also possible that drone users will one day be required to use an ‘app’ to notify authorities and other drone users that they’re going to fly a UAV at a particular location at a given time, ahead of the event.
The DfT says that drone operators will also eventually have to use ‘apps’ that ensure they always have access to safety guidance, although it isn’t yet clear how it plans to enforce this.
Operators are required to keep their drone in line of sight at all times, and be aware of designated “no fly zones”, which most notably include airports and prisons.
In addition, registration with the CAA is necessary if the drone is being used for “commercial purposes”.
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