Drone laws in the UK

Drones are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. They bring new and  exciting possibilities, but also risks.

Although anyone can buy and fly a drone, there are restrictions on their commercial use and measures in place to protect your privacy if there are drones overhead.

If you allow someone onto your land to carry out commercial drone operations you may want to double check some paperwork points with them. Check that they have:

  • The necessary permission from the CAA;
  • Third party liability insurance cover. Although insurance is not strictly necessary for aircraft up to 20kg it would be prudent to check an operator has cover;
  • A privacy impact assessment to ascertain whether there are any data protection issues and what mitigation measures can be put in place.

Any liability resulting from drone use falls on its operator. However, you can reduce your risk by reviewing your third party liability cover, and providing the operator with as much information as possible to ensure they comply with their CAA permission. Consider:

  • Providing the operator with a plan of your land and where your boundaries are;
  • Proximity to settlements, areas with public access and livestock;
  • Other land uses in the area, i.e. shooting.

Take care when planning routes over livestock, footpaths and bridleways as drones have the potential to spook and injure livestock. The CAA advises operators to be familiar with issues of trespass, nuisance and privacy. Broadly speaking, without proper permissions, camera drones cannot be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles or buildings. If you feel harassed by drones on your property, you may be able to sue the operator. However, interfering with a drone, such as deliberately causing damage, could be criminal damage, so best not take a pot shot at one!

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