Princes St Gardens drone flight prompts call for tighter rules

CALLS are being made for tighter rules over the use of drones after a man was spotted flying one in the middle of busy Princes Street Gardens.

Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 5:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 11:15 am
The man operating the drone in Princes St Gardens.

He was seen on Sunday morning as he piloted a hi-tech DJI Phantom 4 drone – worth more than £1200 and boasting a high-definition camera – just yards from where children stood watching.

There is no suggestion he was putting anyone at risk and he may not have been aware of the regulations.

But rules drawn up by the Civil Aviation Authority state drones must not be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures – and should not fly over congested areas.

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The man using the drone in Princes Street Gardens.

Last year, a man was charged with flying a drone over Edinburgh Castle, in one of the first cases of its kind.

And yesterday a police investigation was under way after a plane approaching Heathrow Airport flew into what is believed to have been a drone on Sunday afternoon.

Tory councillor Cameron Rose, a former police officer, said more publicity of the benefits and dangers posed by drones was “urgently needed”.

He said: “Drones are a superb use of technology.

The man using the drone in Princes Street Gardens.

“They can be used for surveying, filming, searching for missing persons and are especially useful in rural areas. And they can be cheap as chips.

“On the other hand, misuse can be catastrophic – as we have seen recently.

“Misuse must be policed robustly and people need to know what is allowed both to fly them and to enable the report of misuse.”

A council spokeswoman said: “While lightweight drones do not always require a licence, we do ask for permissions to be checked in advance.

“We do not recommend flying drones in busy or built-up areas.”

Civil Aviation Authority rules insist drones should not be flown any higher than 400ft from the ground and should be kept away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields. Meanwhile, those wishing to fly drones over historic sites – such as Edinburgh Castle – and for commercial purposes must hold a licence to do so.

A spokesman for Historic Environment Scotland said: “The use of mechanically propelled items and UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] at any of our properties are subject to a strict application and assessment process, ensuring all necessary safety, piloting and other legal aviation requirements are fully met.”

Police said they had received no reports regarding Sunday’s drone flight.