BBC News

Are UK drone laws tough enough?


The government denies "playing catch-up" over drone safety despite a recent increase in prosecutions.

As part of a new Radio 1 iPlayer documentary, Minister for Aviation Lord Ahmad admits his is thinking about making the laws tougher.

"People who use drones for leisure may well be the commercial operators of these drones tomorrow.

"So what we need to ensure are the registration procedures, so we know who these drones belong to," he says.

"Perhaps there's also scope to look at how we can train more effectively and register schemes as well, and there'll be a small minority who still seek to abuse the system, just to ensure that there are penalties there.

image copyrightAFP/Getty Images

"[That means] we can prevent those sensitive areas, such as around prisons and around hospitals.

"If you're flying it in your back garden, also be sensitive to the privacy of your neighbours because that's an important part of using drones as we move forward into a new era of drone usage."

The popularity of drones is soaring.

High street electronic retailer Maplin sold 41,000 in 2016 - an increase of more than half from the year before and Amazon made its first commercial delivery using a drone in the UK in December.

But with the increase in drone usage comes certain problems.

image copyrightPA

Last year there were 59 cases involving drones and aircraft and the government has already made the rules around flying them more simple.

Jonathan Nicholson from the Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for that.

"A lot of [the advice] is common sense; Don't fly above 400ft (120m), you need to be able to see it and keep it in sight, don't fly it near airports, airfields and aircraft and keep it 160ft (50m) away from people who aren't under your control."

The CAA's drone code, which was updated in November, launched an easy way to remember the most important parts of it using the word drone.

1) Don't fly near airports or airfields

2) Remember to stay below 120m (400ft) and at least 50m (150ft) away from buildings and people

3) Observe your drone at all times

4) Never fly near aircraft

5) Enjoy responsibly

There's also a new app you can download to make sure you're flying safely.

Find us on Instagram at BBCNewsbeat and follow us on Snapchat, search for bbc_newsbeat

Related Topics

  • Drones