The report of a drone flying North/South above the village this morning prompted a inquiry from a concerned resident. What is the legal position concerning drones flying above private property?
The answer required a little research. Click on the photo to find out more.
There are two aspects of Law that seem to apply. Aviation Law states that drones must keep at least 50m away from a member of the public. That means that while it isn’t illegal to fly over private property, it must be at above a height of 50m or preferably more.
But Privacy Laws also apply. If the drone is filming someone who is in an area that would normally be considered to private from public scrutiny, then Privacy Laws are likely to override Aviation Law. The problem here is that at 50m, cameras are quite capable of hi-resolution pictures and how does one know if the camera is pointing at you or the skyline. The answer is that you can’t, so operators should follow some simple rules.
Remember, however innocent your intentions are, you are the intruder. Make sure you ask permission before overflying private property and never film at a resolution that might infringe on anyone’s right to privacy. There are many routes to publicising your activity, if you are likely to be overflying a village or larger conurbation, by announcing your intentions on a website or social media. Ultimately, if your drone is capable of flying at an altitude of 100m, why not make sure your activities are almost invisible to those below? They are much less likely to be worried if they know they can’t be seen on camera at that range.
Finally, there is always resort to training and qualification. Most, if not all professional operators hold a licence and will be aware of how to operate their drone safely and within the law. If you are an amateur operator that has grown bored of filming on your own property, why not invest in some training to get more out of your hobby and not raise concerns from neighbours?
If you were concerned by the drone or have information you wish to add, please post it here or on the North Perrott facebook page.