Life could be about to get a bit more tricky for videographers and photographers in the UK who wish to fly drones after details leaked about new draft legislation planned for 2018. Drones that weigh above 400g (the Mavic Pro weighs over 700g) look set to be banned from flying near sensitive sites such as airports or above heights of 400ft (122 metres).
What’s more, anyone using a drone may be required to sit a safety awareness test, in essence requiring UK photographers to be licensed to fly something like a DJI Phantom 3 or similar. The legislation is in response to an increase in the misuse of drones, with a jump in instances of drones getting too near to planes or even being used to ferry drugs into prisons. In an article for BBC, BALPA (the British Airline Pilots’ Association) reported in 2017 there had been 81 incidents so far of near misses between drone and aircraft – up from 29 in 2015.
According to City AM, the new legislation is expected to be drafted and published by Spring 2018, and will even extend to giving police forces extra authority to seize drones that may have been used for criminal activity while and investigate owners. Currently, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority publish a ‘drone code’, which recommends among other things to; always keep a drone in line of sight, stay below 400m and stay 150 metres from people and built-up areas.
Failure to be responsible with your drone could land UK creatives with large fines or up to five years in prison. Drones weighing more than 7kg currently require additional legislation and rules.
Although the outlined proposals are still at draft stage, it’s expected they will get the go-ahead as the UK government seem keen to update laws to keep up with the advancement in drone technology, with Baroness Sugg, a minister for the Department of Transport telling the BBC; ‘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’. Reports state the UK could also trial new geo-fencing systems that enforce no-fly zones around airports and military establishments.
So, do you think these new rules are reasonable enough or are the UK government going too far and punishing the majority of responsible drone users for the actions of a reckless few?