Strict new rules introduced over use of drones in East Devon

Strict rules have been introduced over how drones can be used in East Devon.

The authority has created a new policy in response to an upsurge in us of the airborne items in its parks, public open spaces and on beaches.

Rules stipulate that drone operators must have authority’s written permission to fly from or above its land.

A report to next Thursday’s East Devon District Council (EDDC) Overview Committee explains why the policy is needed.

It says the close proximity of many parks and open spaces or other council-owned land to neighbouring residential and business properties means there is a potential risk of causing ‘disturbance, annoyance or harassment to occupants and users’.

It adds there is a potential risk of accident and injury to visitors at parks and green spaces or council property as a result of user or drone error.

Granting permission for drones to be used could leave the council liable for subsequent actions, says the report.

To a fly a drone over council-owned land, operators will need to:

  • Provide a description of the purpose of the flight;
  • Provide a copy of your public liability insurance certificate (with provides cover for a minimum of £10,000,000 in respect of any one claim);
  • Provide a copy of your flight plan including specified launch and landing points;
  • Provide a copy of the site assessment;
  • Provide a copy of your CAA issued Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) document.

If permission is granted, the operator must also agree to:

  • Make sure the area is safe at all times whilst using the drone;
  • Ensure that they at all times comply with the current Civil Aviation Authority Air Navigation Order and the current Drone Code;
  • Indemnify the council against any injury or damage caused;
  • Have in place suitable secure arrangements for the handling of personal data captured.

Anyone wishing to undertake commercial photography, filming, or other drone activity, over council-owned land will have to pay £200 before final permission is granted.

If the council wishes to film using a drone then it will only hire a pilot or company with the appropriate Civil Aviation Authority permission or accreditation.

The policy states that drones may not be flown from or above council land without first obtaining written permission from East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Permission will only be granted where usage of a drone device aids risk-reduction in the work place, such as working at height, land and building survey work, or for the undertaking of professional services such as festivals, archaeological surveys and events media.

If any person/persons are found to be using a drone device from EDDC land without a letter of permission, they will be instructed to stop immediately, says the policy.

Lanterns will also be banned from being released on council-owned land.

The new policy has already been put in place, but the Overview Committee will discuss the report and will be provided with an understanding of it following a request it had made in 2019.

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