Government plans new drone regulations

The Government has put forward new plans to “detect, deter and disrupt” the misuse of drones.

The proposals, published by the Security Minister Brandon Lewis, come after several major drone-related incidents across the UK.

Commenting on the planned legislation, Mr Lewis said the new strategy will ensure that the UK can continue to “harness the economic and social benefits of drones”, while “cracking down” on misuse and disruption.

The plans include introducing international safety standards for manufacturers of drones, which are likely to include built-in flight restrictive software or similar devices, as well as GPS tracking features and enhanced licensing regulations.

Introducing the plans today, Mr Lewis said the drone industry – which is expected to contribute an additional £42 billion to the UK economy by 2030 – is under threat by “malicious use”.

“This government is proud of the UK’s burgeoning drone industry and we will do all that we can to ensure that the UK firmly establishes itself as a world leader in this industry,” he said.

“But to ensure the drone industry can thrive in this country we must be able to crack down effectively on those who would use drones to cause harm or disruption.

“There is no silver bullet to help protect our infrastructure and our citizens from malicious or careless drone use. That’s why this Strategy outlines a broad range of work to ensure we can effectively tackle the threat.”

The latest statistics reveal that there were 168 police-recorded drone incidents in England and Wales in 2018.  Rufus Ballaster (Senior Partner of Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors and co-author of A Practical Guide to Drone Law) commented that this is the tip of an iceberg and that the CAA is involved in significant numbers of other drone law infringement enforcement issues which arise, without involving the police.

This includes the December 2018 Gatwick Airport drone incident, in which hundreds of flights were cancelled following reports of drone sightings close to the runway.

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