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Flying drones and model aircraft policy

Leicester City Council has introduced an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) usage policy in response to an upsurge in public request and usage occurrences on council land including parks and public open spaces.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Leicester City Council land owner stance – UAS - drone use
  3. Leicester City Council land owner stance – model aircraft use
  4. Basis for Leicester City Council’s position
  5. Specific note regarding park enforcement and byelaws
  6. References
  7. Appendix (i)
  8. Appendix (ii)

1. Introduction

UASs are likely to be operated in a way that may pose a greater risk to the public than might immediately be apparent to operators. Unlike manned aircraft, there are few enforced operating guidelines. Operators may not be aware of the potential dangers or indeed the responsibility they have towards not endangering the public.

In addition, 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 space in which to operate. It is therefore 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.

In January 2010 the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) introduced regulations that required 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. The Civil Aviation Authority remains the central point of contact for all practical, permission and exemption aspects of UASs.

All work and surveys carried out using UASs are currently subject to The Air Navigation Order 2016 or such other legislation that will presumably amend or succeed it over time.

For a full copy of the CAA policy CAP 3939 Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations please visit www.caa.co.uk, alongside further information and guidance on operation, safety, formal permission request etc.

Further to this, all flights require permission from the relevant land owner, regardless of the existence or not of other formal permissions or insurances held.

2. Leicester City Council land owner stance – UAS - drone use

Zero Tolerance/permission will be enforced/granted by Leicester City Council to any request made to us for recreational, amateur, social, hobby purposes as land owner to fly UASs of this type on Leicester City Council land.

Exemptions to Leicester City Council's Policy will only be granted where usage of such a device aids risk reduction, for example; working at height, building survey work, or undertaking a professional service like Festivals & Events Media.

For commercial or professional flights where it is believed use of a UASs should fall into the exemption criteria, an application process is available. Please refer to Appendix (ii) for more detail on application criteria. Applicants should address their request by e-mail to parks@leicester.gov.uk in the first instance.

3. Leicester City Council land owner stance – model aircraft use

Zero Tolerance/permission will be enforced/granted by Leicester City Council to any request made to us for recreational or commercial purposes as land owner to fly model aircrafts on Leicester City Council land.

Exemptions will only be considered, 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 license agreement must be made with Leicester City Council and the formalised club before site usage can be established. There is currently only one such club licensed in this way (based in Braunstone).

4. Basis for Leicester City Council’s position

Reasons behind our zero tolerance or permission policy for recreational, amateur, social, hobby requests:

  • Leicester City Council granting permission could leave the local authority liable for subsequent actions brought about by drone activity when operated from land under our ownership.
  • The proximity of many of our sites to neighbouring residential and business properties together with the potential risk of causing alarm, distress or harassment to occupants.
  • Potential risk of accident, injury to other site users or property because of user or model aircraft error.
  • Leicester City Council feels this approach relevant to the maintenance of privacy considerations for our site users, tenants and neighbours.

5. Specific note regarding park enforcement and byelaws

If person/persons are found to be using a drone device on Leicester City 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 Leicester City Council land.

It is important to note that parks and open spaces carry dedicated legislation prohibiting flights within their criminal byelaws as follows:

Leicester City Council - byelaws for pleasure grounds, public walks and open spaces

General prohibition

31. No person shall cause any power-driven model aircraft to:

  1. take off or otherwise be released for flight or control the flight of such an aircraft; or
  2. land in the ground without reasonable excuse; other than in a designated area for flying model aircraft.

Obstruction

38. No person shall obstruct:

  1. any officer of the council in the proper execution of his duties;
  2. any person carrying out an act which is necessary to the proper execution of any contract with the council; or
  3. any other person in the proper use of the ground.

Removal of offenders

40. Any person offending against any of these byelaws may be removed from the ground by an officer of the council or a constable.

Penalty

41. Any person offending against any of these byelaws shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

6. References

Air Navigation: The Order and the Regulations CAP 393

Air Navigation Order 2009

Leicester City Council Byelaws for Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces 2019

www.caa.co.uk

Appendix (i)

Exemptions and permissions:

  • Leicester Police have been granted a licence to operate their Unmanned Aircraft System(s) from pleasure grounds, public walks and open spaces in Leicester.
  • “Braunstone Flyers” are subject to an agreement with Leicester City Council pertaining to the operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems from their designated location within Braunstone Park, Leicester, commensurate with the terms and conditions specified.

Appendix (ii)

Consideration of applications for UASs operation within Leicester City will be restricted to the following categories:

  • Specialist professional building surveys
  • Public interest media filming
  • Mitigation of health and safety risks
  • Positive promotion of Leicester city’s profile
  • Lack of operational alternatives to UASs deployment within a project

All professional/commercial applications that feel they fit within this view should view the terms and conditions, complete an application form and pay the £50.00 administration fee.

This process to be submitted a minimum of twenty-one days prior to the requested time of deployment or permission may not be granted.