Christmas drone sales boom sparks privacy concerns

21 December 2016

Rules for drone use must be tightened to address concerns over privacy while flying above residential properties and privately owned land.

Drones have already sparked safety concerns by flying too close to airports but the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is concerned that current regulations are not robust enough to ensure that privacy is maintained.

The Government has launched a consultation on new drone safety rules in the run up to booming Christmas sales.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “The use of drones both commercially and for recreation is growing fast. The potential for a wide range of industries, not least agriculture, is tremendously exciting, but we do need regulation to keep pace.

“The growth in the availability of drones with high resolution cameras for leisure use, rather than industry, presents a significant risk to privacy and requires action. We need reassurance that drones being flown over private property or land are being done so legally, professionally and safely. We must also address the potential for damage to property and injury to livestock.”

The CLA has already called on the European Aviation Safety Agency to tighten controls on privacy, data protection and future regulation.

Mr Murray said: “We will respond to the UK government consultation putting forward workable proposals for drone regulation. We want to see proper guidance on what individuals can expect from privacy and drone use in relation to both residential properties and privately owned land.

“I urge those buying drones as Christmas gifts for friends and family to use common sense and follow the CLA’s top tips when operating them in order to ensure both privacy and public safety.”

CLA’s five top tips for responsible drone use:

1. Fly safely and understand the law; you are legally responsible for every flight and can be prosecuted if found to be operating a drone in an unsafe manner.
2. Respect the privacy of others and obtain permission before flying over privately owned land or property.
3. Never fly within 50 metres of people or buildings.
4. Animals can be easily be frightened by drones which can cause injury to them and others.
5. Use common sense when operating a drone: keep it in sight at all times and do not fly above 400 feet.