The government is not doing enough when it comes to the regulation of drones, according to a new report from a House of Commons committee.
The Science and Technology Committee produced a 73-page document making several recommendations to the government.
The report begins by pointing out that the drone sightings at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 had highlighted the need for further recognition of the substantial rise in the purchase and use of commercial and civilian drones more widely.
It said that although the Government had already taken some action to reduce the risks posed by drones, and had announced plans to introduce a Drones Bill in late 2019, more work was required to ensure current drone users were not unfairly penalised, and that criminal drone users are suitable penalised.
It added that it recognised the importance of extending Flight Restriction Zones to five kilometres, but said that these restriction zones are not clearly or consistently enforced.
The report recommended that he Government should commission the production of a standardised and unified system through which drone operators can request access to Flight Restriction Zones.
It further argued that there is a compelling case for the Government to introduce a registration scheme to be able to identify all lawful operators and to ensure that there is a knowledge test for drone users.
It said the Government, or appropriate regulatory body should review the proposed online test one year after it has been in operation.
The committee also claimed that if the registration fee dissuades individuals from registering, then this defies the purpose of the system—and as such the Government should conduct a review of the cost of the registration scheme.
If the Government believes it is appropriate for the fee to remain at £16.50, the report says, then they should clearly set out their rationale for the cost and the renewal period should be three years rather than yearly.
It also recommends that the Government considers a system which allows organised clubs and societies to register as one entity, so as not to financially burden each member, but that it must be mandatory for every individual user to adhere to the required safety standards.
Finally, in terms of the proposed registration system, it said that the Government should acknowledge that the scheme will do little to mitigate the risks from nefarious drone users who will simply bypass registration and testing.
It recommended a sliding scale of penalties for failure to register, starting with a warning, and culminating in a fine and a prison sentence.