Drone and Model Aircraft Usage policy

Last updated 21 September 2020

 

1. Introduction

1.1. Wyre Forest District Council has introduced a Drone and Model Aircraft Usage Policy in response to an increase in requestsand usage occurrences on Council owned land, including parks and open spaces. This policy covers flying of Drones or Model Aircraft from and / or over Council owned land.

1.2. Traditionally, unmanned aircraft have only been used by model aircraft enthusiasts for recreational purposes. However, they are increasingly being used for professional applications such as surveillance and data gathering. Such aircraft are likely to be operated in a way that may pose a greater risk to the general public. Unlike manned aircraft or model aircraft used for recreational purposes, there are no established operating guidelines so operators may not be aware of the potential dangers or indeed the responsibility they have towards not endangering the public.

1.3. Furthermore, much larger unmanned aircraft are now being developed. These aircraft are required by national and European law to be designed and manufactured to an approved standard and very often require a great deal more spacein which to operate. Therefore it is often necessary to take additional steps to ensure that the aircraft can be safely integrated with other airspace users -both in the air and on the ground.

2. Wyre Forest District Council Land Owner Stance - drone usage

2.1. Wyre Forest District Council hasa zero tolerance approach and,subject to the paragraph below, any request made to us for recreational or commercial purposes as land owner to fly drones from and/or over Wyre Forest District Council land will be refused.

2.2. Exemptions will be granted only where usage of a drone device aids risk reduction in the work place such as; working at height, building survey work or undertaking a professional service, for example; festivals and events media. Evidence of public liability insurance will be required. For commercial users, evidence of registration with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be required. Evidence will also need to be provided that any safety test required by law to be undertaken has been passed.

3. Wyre Forest District Council Land Owner Stance - model aircraft

3.1. Wyre Forest District Council hasa zero tolerance approach and,subject to the paragraph below, any request made to us for recreational or commercial purposes as land owner to fly model aircraft from and/or over Wyre Forest District Council land will be refused.

3.2. Exemptions will be considered only where users are part of a formalised model aircraft flying club, that can demonstrate all health and safety and insurance measures are in place. A licence agreement must be made between Wyre Forest District Council and the formalised club before site usage can be established and evidence of public liability insurance will be required.

4. Reasons behind our zero tolerance policy for recreational or commercial requests

4.1. Ad hoc use where the Council is unaware and unable to require the user to hold public liability insurance could leave the Council involved in subsequent actions brought about by model aircraftor droneactivity when operated fromand/or overland under our ownership.

4.2. The close proximity of many of our sites to neighbouring residential and business properties and to the potential risk of causing alarm, distress, harassment or nuisance to occupants.

4.3. Potential risk of accident, injury to other site users or property as a result of error by usersof drones or model aircraft and the potential risk of causing alarm, distress, harassment or nuisance to other users of the property.

5. Park enforcement

5.1. Under the terms of the Council’s byelaws for pleasure grounds, play area, sports grounds and closed churchyard confirmed by the Secretary of State on 5 December 1988, if person/persons are found to be using a drone device or model aircraft from and/ or overWyre Forest District Council land without permission they will be requested to stop immediately. If the user refuses to stop, the police will be called to attend to cease activity and remove the user from Wyre Forest District Council land. It is a breach of the byelaw to obstruct any officer of the Council in the proper executionof their duty.

5.2. Any person who breaches the byelaw shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.

6. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations

6.1. If you fall within the exemptions as outlined above (and so are allowed to use the drone or model aircraft from and/ or over Council owned land) you must still adhere to the CAA regulations.

6.2. In January 2010, the CAA introduced new regulations that require operators of small unmanned aircraft used for aerial work purposes and those equipped for data acquisition and/or surveillance to obtain permission from the CAA before commencing a flight within a congested area or in proximity to people or property.

6.3. Essentially, the person controlling a small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is fully responsible for the safe operation of any flight, but it is important to consider whether permission (not a licence) from the CAA is required.

6.4. You must request permission from the CAA if you plan to: fly the aircraft on a commercial basissuch as;  conducting ‘aerial work’, or fly a camera/surveillance fitted aircraft within congested areas or closer than the distance listed within Article 167 to people or properties (which means vehicles, vessels or structures) that are not under your control

6.5. Permission is not required ifthe aircraft will not be flown close to people or properties, and you will not get ‘valuable consideration’ for example; payment, from the flight, then a permission is not required.

6.6. Permission is also not needed for ‘practice’ or demonstration flights. However, the other requirements of Article 166 and Article 167 must still be complied with and it must also be ensured that no one is endangered while flying the aircraft.

6.7. The regulations are intended to protect people and/or properties that are not involved in the activity. They are also aimed at being as ‘light touch’ and proportionate as possible, so there is a great deal that can be done (especially for private or recreational flights) without the need to approach the CAA at all.

Civil Aviation Authority policy CAP 393 Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations

Article 166 Small Unmanned Aircraft

1. A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.

2. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can besafely made.

3. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight pathin relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

4. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:

            1. in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;
            2. within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any)at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or
            3. at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.

5. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of aerial work except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.

Article 167 Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft

1. The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

2. The circumstancesreferred to in paragraph (1) are:

            1. over or within 150 metres of any congested area (defined as ‘any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes’);
            2. over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
            3. Within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft; or
            4. Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.

3. Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.

4. Paragraphs (2) (d) and (3) do not apply to the person incharge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.

5. In this article ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition. For a full copy of the Civil Aviation Authority policy CAP 393 Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations please visit thier website, alongside further information and guidance on operation, safety and formal permission request.

7. Data protection

Using a drone to record images of other people without their consentcould be construed as a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018, 1998 or ‘In the picture: A data protection code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information’, which was published by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2015 to include the public use of drones where they are collecting information about individuals. It is solely your responsibility to ensure that you are not in breach.

8. Contact details

 To make a request, contact Wyre Forest District Council’s Operational Services by email. Do not begin use until formal consent is given and evidence of public liability insurance is approved.

9. Course information

CAA Approved: Remote Pilot Certification (RCPCS) Course.

10. References