A hardline UK-wide crackdown on the use of drones near airports has been announced in a drive to avoid any repeat of the chaos witnessed at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas.
The “no-fly” zone around all UK airports, including those such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, will be extended to 5km from the existing 1km limit under new laws being introduced at Westminster this week.
Police will also be handed tougher “stop and search” powers to target people suspected of using drones maliciously. They will come into force next month.
The approach to countering the malicious use of drones is also being reviewed by the Home Office. This will go beyond airports and look at how best to protect all “critical national infrastructure”. It will include testing and evaluating technology to counter drones.
UK transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.”
Gatwick suffered a level of unprecedented chaos after reported drone sightings on 19 December, with hundreds of flights cancelled over a 24-hour period.
The new exclusion zone will mean banning drone flights within 5km of runway ends. It will come into force on 13 March. A new Drones Bill is being progressed that will give additional powers to the police, including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.