Man charged with flying drone over Edinburgh Castle

The drone was spotted on Wednesday. File picture
The drone was spotted on Wednesday. File picture
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A MAN has been charged with flying a drone over Edinburgh Castle, in one of the first cases of its kind.

Police moved in after the remote-controlled device was spotted by Historic Scotland staff flying around the Castle and Princes Street Gardens.

The operator was said to have been quickly traced and charged under civil aviation legislation and a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal. It is not known why he was flying the drone.

Strict rules govern the flying of drones, but the case has led to calls for more awareness.

Chief Inspector Bob Paris said: “The use of drones in public spaces is becoming more popular for people filming and photographing scenery or places of interest.

“However, I would advise that operators familiarise themselves with all the appropriate legislation so as to ensure they adhere to existing aviation laws and regulations and be aware of the areas in our community where drone activity may pose a particular sensitivity.”

The rules state that a drone should not be flown any higher than 400ft from the ground and should be kept away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Drones fitted with cameras must not be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures and should not fly over congested areas or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events.

Those wishing to fly drones over historic sites, such as Edinburgh Castle, and for commercial purposes must hold a licence to do so.

Kevin Warren, a sales assistant at Marionville Models, Scotland’s biggest drone dealer, said more needed to be done to highlight the laws about using an unmanned aircraft.

Mr Warren, who has over 45 years flying experience, said: “We like to make sure that people are informed of the rules and regulations surrounding drones before we sell them.

“At the moment, there is no law to say that the manufacturer or supplier must supply the rules before a drone is purchased, but I think this is something that needs to be addressed.

“People can easily buy drones on Amazon or Ebay without knowing the do’s and don’ts.

“If a drone falls from the sky, it could easily cause bodily injury and potentially kill a small child. Educating the public about the risks of these devices is essential.”

A spokesman for Historic Scotland, which runs Edinburgh Castle, said: “An unpermitted, unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] flying over the Upper Ward area of the castle was reported to police on Wednesday morning.

“The use of mechanically propelled items and UAVs at any of our properties is subject to a strict application and assessment process, ensuring all necessary safety, piloting and other legal aviation requirements are fully met.”

The incident comes just days after a remote-controlled aircraft crashed into the Wallace Monument in Stirling and damaged a window.