If you're shooting with a drone here in the UK, this is what you need to know

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When drones first appeared on the video scene, there was little to no legislation abut their use whatsoever. However, following an increase in their accessibility UK drone laws were changed in early 2017.

These laws have placed a lot more red tape on UK drone users to ensure the safety of the public and proper operation of devices like the DJI Phantom 4 Advanced.

In this article we’ll be answering the following questions:

  • What are the UK drone laws?
  • What is the dronecode?
  • Where can I fly my drone?

What are the UK drone laws?

Before, buying and operating a drone was as simple as going to the shop, purchasing your favourite flyer, getting it out the box and using it. Now new schemes have been put in place to force owners to register their drone and show they are competent at using any device that weighs over 250 grams.

The government has also stated that they will look into further measure like increased penalty fines, new offences and reviewing the power that law enforcement agencies have.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has also created their own page specifically for drones to show what the code entails, any viable drone training and other resources.

What is the Dronecode?

So how does the Dronecode affect you if you’re hoping to get that perfect aerial shot? Well the code can be boiled down to some simple points to remember when out operating your drone:

  • Your drone must be kept within your line of sight at all times and cannot operate above a maximum height of 400ft or 122m.
  • You cannot operate your drone more than 500m away from you horizontally.
  • You cannot fly near other aircraft of any kind, airports and airfields.
  • If you’re filming, your drone must stay at least 50m away from a person, vehicle or building that the pilot does not own or have permission from.
  • If you’re filming, you cannot fly within 150m of a congested area or large group of people, for example central London or a music concert

With few drone owners getting into trouble you can be forgiven for waving away any potential danger but it’s imperative you stick to the guidelines.

Many drones can actually fly higher than the stated 400ft making it easy for you to break the law unknowingly. So why the 400ft limit? Well the CAA explain that once you start to go north of 400ft it becomes tricky for you to have a clear sight of it due to human optical limitations.

Where can I fly my drone?

Flying drones is a fairly contentious topic with many different rules for many different places. Firstly, flying your drone on your land is completely acceptable but unless you have the same acreage as the Crown Estates this won’t make for exciting filming.

In public spaces like parks and commons it is imperative to check where you’re filming before you start. This could be in the form of explicit policy or checking with wardens for clarification.

When flying on a private estate or someone else’s property be sure to ask for written permission prior to flying or shooting.

A great app to download is NATS Drone Assist. This app was created by the National Air Traffic Services and shows where there are no-fly zones. These include airports, power stations and of course, military bases.

A video below shows the level of distruption that a single stray drone can cause if flown too close to a major airport.

Ultimately, the drone is your responsibility and should any nuisance or damage occur from your use you will be held responsible.

Finally, before operating your drone in public be sure to check if your home insurance covers your drone or if you would need to get specific insurance. There are very few safety measures should a drone fail or collide with another object so making sure you have adequate cover is a must.

Now go get shooting.