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flying laws in the UK

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by doyleat5, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. doyleat5

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    Hi all

    Could you help to clear my mind as to where i can and cant fly?

    Ive heard of the CAA and Police going after pilots who fly above congested areas and roads etc.

    We are told not to fly within 50 metres of buildings we do not own. Its so restricting!

    Few days ago i flew over 50 metres high over the top of a church....got some cool video......could i be in trouble for hovering directly over the top of it ??? There was a couple of people walking nearby and an occasional car but i would hardly say it was a congested area...all around the church are fields.

    Its a bit worrying because we dont really have clear rules...they say we cant fly over a built up area......we hardly want to be flying over fields all day do we?!?! Lol

    Thanks everyone...what do you think?
     
  2. jason

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    Be you do have very clear rules there in the UK as to what you can and cannot do. Maybe downloading the CAA rules would help to enlighten you. Some of the rules CAA have seem a bit overboard to us here in the US but they are what they are.
     
  3. rockydog

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    We do have clear rules....a very basic guide below

    https://www.caa.co.uk/drones/

    You can find a lot more info on the CAA site.

    If you start flying over built up areas and shopping centres etc, you're going to drop us all in trouble.
     
  4. sticky photography

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  5. Danmill

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    I have to agree, I get a little confused with the law in the UK.
    We are told that we aren't allowed to fly over "congested areas", however, they define a congested area as "any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes".

    Does this mean you can't go to fly in a wide open park, which is completely empty?

    I live in a small village, which has a large, flat grassy area in the middle as a park. It meets all other regs (not flying close to buildings or people etc), but it's a recreational area. Does that mean I can't fly there?
     
  6. rockydog

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    You should be ok flying there as long as you respect the 50m from people regulation. (Or unless your local council has any by-laws prohibiting that sort of activity).
     
  7. Danmill

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    Thanks for your reply :)
    I understand that a congested area is generally where you get crowds of people or cars etc, but the way it's been defined (covering recreational areas) doesn't make a lot of sense, as most recreational areas are wide open spaces, and generally not congested areas.
    I'm struggling to find a place to fly my Phantom 3 Advanced at the minute. Apart from open spaces like parks, you are supposed to get permission from land owners to fly over fields etc from what I've read, and there are so many restrictions now in place that it's getting more awkward to find places to fly.

    Don't get me wrong, the laws are a good thing, but it's annoying that the minority of people have been flying carelessly and meant that these laws have been enforced and are so strict :(
     
  8. Grae

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    Totally get your frustration.

    Okay, so you need permission from the owner of the takeoff point only. In real terms, if you're in, say, a field, you're not going to go and hunt down the owner of that field. Unless the field is very clearly a private area and there are trespassing issues, I wouldn't worry about that at all.

    In terms of parks, if there are a load of people in the park I'd forget it. That's because if something goes wrong somebody is going to do all they can to find you, whether it's the police or a member of the public.

    If drones were completely safe then nobody would care so much, but they're not, especially when operated by people with limited experience. I'd keep in mind the possibilities of what could happen if the drone failed.

    Flying over roads if a big no, because the damage caused by drone failure could be much greater.

    The CAA guidelines need to be adhered to. Sure, there are loads of people going against these rules but some of them will be crying into their sleeves when it all goes horribly wrong and they get caught.

    I'd stick to quiet areas well away from roads etc. and seek permission for the other places you want to fly. Doing it properly and covering yourself from a legal point of view will mean you'll want insurance and a CAA Permission for Aerial Work - you'll have full confidence, more chance of the backing of the people you need permission from and a legal team behind you. Whichever way you cut it, flying a drone anywhere near civilisation is a serious activity.


    UK
     
  9. Danmill

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    Thanks for your reply :)
    Everything you've said above I totally agree with, and it's all common sense.
    What troubles me is that, although you say as long as it's in a clear area with no people (eg an empty, wide open space like a park), I'm still technically breaking rules, as I'm flying in a recreational area. I know the chances of me being punished for that is tiny, but it's still going against their rules.

    I just don't understand where I'm supposed to fly according to the CAA, without either breaking rules or getting permission, making a flight plan/log and getting insurance. I'm actually worried about posting photo and video I now capture too, as so many people rant on at rule breaking, even though it's very hard not to break the rules because they aren't specific enough. :(
     
  10. Grae

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    To be specific, you CAN fly the drone in the park as long as the drone is 50 meters or more away from a person (the 50m rule applies wherever you are). Much easier if the park is quiet! Check out the CAA website - there's a little video on there which tells you the guidelines.


    UK
     
  11. Dylan1273

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    I think they are confusing to a degree, especially the 50m rule that includes not flying within 50m of a structure define structure ! And they say you can't fly Within or over 150m of congested areas etc but with the 50m rule it omits the "over" part which has me thinking that the omission of the word "over" could be interpreted to mean you could fly over 50m. Not clear really, but best be safe than sorry.
     
  12. Grae

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    Yeah, I guess it is open to interpretation to a point, dependent on the location and circumstances at the time. As a rule I would suggest that keeping 50m from a person, road etc. would be a good benchmark. That means that if an area is really congested and you have to be 50m or more away from somebody, you'll end up being away from the congestion.


    UK
     
  13. droneuk

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    I'm glad I found this thread as I have been asking the same questions, as a new drone owner.

    Of course I want to fly it and shoot video, but obviously I don't want to harm anyone or get into trouble and bring the concept into bad press.

    I read somewhere that, as a loose guide, the CAA is primarily concerned with safety where the police are more concerned with privacy and criminal issues.

    The CAA guidelines reference common sense as an important factor which I'm sure counts for a lot, as often when you think it feels wrong, it often is. The CAA rules do feel open to interpretation and are causing me a headache as I'm worried that I can't fly anywhere of interest without breaking the rules - but hopefully by applying some common sense and keeping safety as a primary factor, I/we should be OK.
     
  14. Grae

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    Yeah, safety is key for sure. As long as you keep to the distance limitations you'll be fine because that means people and buildings are well away from you.


    UK
     
  15. droneuk

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    I suppose also, if you fly with a minimal altitude of say 60M, you will always be at least 50M away from people and/or structures (as long as you factor in the structure height).

    50m being two lengths of a standard non-olympic swimming pool - that's what I'm using to guestimate the distance - not planning to get tape measure out ;)
     
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  16. Grae

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    Sensible - nobody can argue that you're not safe with that approach.


    UK
     
  17. rockydog

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    Not sensible at all.....The 50m regulation is a radial measurement. If you're flying 60m above a crowd of people and your quad dies for any reason, you're likely to do some serious damage free falling from that height.
     
  18. Grae

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    You are right!!! I didn't note the aerial reference. It's quite the opposite of sensible - the higher the worse it is! Yes, radial.


    UK
     
  19. droneuk

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    Agreed - in hindsight that does make sense - I think I was meaning more for structures - at the moment I'm to scared to fly even if there's one person near by! :)


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
  20. Dylan1273

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    Define "structure" in CAAs context, at the moment it is very very difficult to fly your drone in the UK to be totally in line with CAAs rules, I.e you go to your local park you will need clear line of sight all around in case a dog walker walks into your "zone" or you fly over a little stream for instance with a little obscured concrete crossing,it's a structure , on private land say rolling open fields a lot of them have public footpaths running through them, and you will need permission from the landowner to be there, only real option is open water where no boats operate, or somewhere so remote it will take you ages to get there where no dog walkers go.