New laws to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports in the UK has come into force today.
The laws now make it illegal to fly a drone within 5km of an airport with changes to penalties meaning heftier punishment for those who break the law.
It comes ahead of a new Drones Bill expected later this year which will give the police significantly increased powers to deal with illegal drone operators.
Penalties for breaking the law on misusing drones range from fines to life imprisonment if the device is intentionally used to cause violence.
Drone users can only fly within the restriction zones if they have the correct permission from air traffic control or from the airport.
Commenting on the new laws, transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK has been consistently at the forefront of legislation to tackle drone misuse. All drone users should be aware that flying a drone within 5km of an airport or over 400ft is a serious criminal act, one which could put lives at risk and risks penalties ranging from significant fines to a life sentence.”
He added: “I urge people to report any suspicious drone activity to local police or Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111.”
Next week, aviation minister Liz Sugg, is set to meet with global leading drone manufacturers to discuss how to tackle criminal drone use.
They are expected to discuss a range of topics including counter-drone technology and software including geofencing.
Baroness Sugg said: “Flying drones illegally puts others at risk both in the air and on the ground, so it’s vital they are used safely. The majority of people using drones want to do so responsibly, so we have expanded a national campaign to ensure they know the rules – and the penalties.”
She continued: “The new Drones Bill, which is currently being drafted, will give new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft – including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant. It will also include stop and search powers for drone users near aerodromes.”
The Home Office went on to confirm that it is also reviewing the UK’s approach to countering the malicious use of drones, and will consider how best to protect the full range of the UK’s critical national infrastructure.
It specified the testing and evaluation of technology to counter drones as something it was looking into as part of this.
CDP reported on the initial announcement on the new drone laws in January.
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