A Guide To Using A Drone In London

James Drury
By James Drury Last edited 42 months ago
A Guide To Using A Drone In London

Hoverdrone by the Broadgate Tower.

Drones were on the Christmas lists of many Londoners last month, but Scotland Yard has not been quite so excited about the popularity of the unmanned machines. It issued a warning to new owners: don't fly them in central London.

An increase in the number of videos taken near famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge, The Shard and the London Eye prompted Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth of the Met’s Specialist Operations unit to give the warning. He told the Evening Standard: “I compare them to cars. They are perfectly legal to own but it is very easy to break the laws when you are driving."

So please, drone't be an idiot — follow this guide and stay out of trouble with the law:

First off — if your drone weighs over 20kg, forget it. You can only use it in certified areas. If it weighs less than that, read on...

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says drones must not be flown within 150m of built-up areas or within 50m of any building not owned by the controller of the machine. In other words: keep away from places such as this:

Canary Wharf. Photo by Dave Banbury from the Londonist Flickr pool.

In fact — the only places you probably can fly them are the ones like those here shaded green on this map:

What we're trying to say is: go to a PARK.

What it means is that this film we shared in May (with the prescient prediction that within five years drones would either be part of daily life or banned) is unfortunately NOT OK:

You could also cause serious disruption or hurt yourself if your drone crashes into power lines or a substation, which would not be good for anyone.

You will also be breaking the law if you fly near an airport — like the person who flew their drone within 20ft of a jet that was landing in Heathrow in December (then scarpered).

Heathrow airport. Photo by Manuel via the Londonist Flickr pool.

We don't mean to drone on but you can forget about having fun in built-up areas with your new toy.

There have also been increasing incidences of people complaining that their privacy has been invaded by people swooping over with drones that have cameras attached and also of harassment when people flying the craft "buzz" passers-by.

So we advise playing it safe when you take your drone out for walkies: keep it on a lead — and please, don't let it leave batteries all over the pavement.

Last Updated 06 January 2015