UK Drone Laws Guide: All the latest news and everything you need to know about where you can and can’t fly a drone in the UK, including speculation that you might soon need a license to fly a drone under proposed changes to the ‘dronecode’.
Over the last couple of years, drones have gone from niche geek gadget to High Street mainstay, and if you’re reading this, we suspect you were recently the lucky recepient of a shiny new flying bot or two – something like Propel’s Star Wars Battle Drones, perhaps?
Before you fire up your new device, though, there are some rules and regulations you need to be aware of – both in the interests of public safety, and so you don’t find yourself on the receiving end of a bollocking (and fine) from PC Plod.
WHERE CAN AND CAN’T I FLY MY DRONE?
Seen some of that snazzy airborne footage on YouTube? Well, it’s probably illegal, as according to UK laws regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, consumer drones (classed as those that weigh under 20kg) must be flown no higher than 120 metres, and kept at least 50 metres away from people and private property, and 150 metres from “crowds and built up areas.”
You’re also required to keep your drone in your line of sight at all times, and be aware of designated ‘no fly zones’, which most notably include airports and prisons.
In addition, you need to register with the CAA if you’re planning to use your drone for ‘commercial purposes’ – this may sound like it doesn’t apply to you, but it extends to things like monetising your YouTube channel or personal blog, however meagerly.
In other words, flying your new drone isn’t quite as straightforward as you think, especially if you live in an urban area. You can learn more over on the CAA-backed Drone Safe website, where the handy Drone Assist app is also available.
THE LATEST DRONE NEWS
What’s more, there’s some significant changes to UK drone law that could come into effect as soon as 2017.
Ministers are currently pushing for new regulations for drones and their owners, headlined by the proposal that all drones heavier than 250g will need to be registered with the CAA and that users will have to pass a safety test similar to the driving theory test.
To put that into perspective, 250g is about the weight of half an average pack of dry supermarket pasta, so you’d need to register pretty much any half-decent drone. It’s also quite the tumble from the current 20kg threshold.
That’s the current state of play, and we expect more in the future, but we’ll update this page with all the latest developments.
In the meantime, we wish you many a safe and fun flight with your new drone!