We thought we would write a short piece about flying a drone for commercial puposes in the Lake District, particularly as the most scenic areas are under the guardianship of either the National Trust of National Parks Authority.
In our experience, most film crews that want to work within the Lake District, choose to film on land under the guardianship of the National Trust or National Parks Authority (Lake District National Park). Unfortunately, you can’t just pitch up and start shooting, you need to seek permission first. Being both native to Cumbria and based in the Lake District, gives Hovershotz the advantage of being able to liaise with these organisations to gain the necessary permissions on your behalf (unfortunately there have been incidents in the Lake District with drones from operators from outside of the area, and the National Trust in particular have a jaundiced view on them). The National Trust operates a zero done policy in the Lake District, however they are willing under certain circumstances to work with responsible, licenced & insured drone operators, who are sympathetic to and understand the National Trust’s Lake District’s areas. Hovershotz are one such drone operator, who hold the necessary qualifications, licences, insurance and most importantly ‘the understanding’ to satisfy the requirements of the National Trust. Hovershotz are also registered on Proactis as a National Trust approved supplier, and film on behalf of the National Trust.
Before even considering any permission to fly a drone over their land or near one or their properties, the National Trust require the following:
- A formal UAS qualification. Currently the National Trust only accept the BNUC-S qualification from Euro USC or the RPQ qualification from The Resource Group (there are other UAS qualifications available from other NQE’s that satisfy the CAA for permission for commercial operation but currently these are not recognised by the National Trust).
- CAA PFCO (Civil Aviation Authority Permission for Commercial Operation).
- At least £2m public liability and aeronautical insurance.
- And bizarrely evidence of motor insurance (presumably as you need to drive to and from their locations).
Sadly we see many tourists & hobby drone owners flying and filming all over the Lake District on National Trust land, these hobby drone users have not given any consideration as to what if they are doing is legal (it isn’t). Unfortunately these idiots are going to spoil it for responsible drone operators who take the time to seek the necessary permissions from the National Trust or Lake District National Park Authority. They are also leaving themselves open to prosecution (a fine of up to £5,000 and confiscation of their equipment). Although most of these illegal drone owners are making it easier for the authorities to catch up with them by posting their footage online on sites like Youtube and sharing it on sites like Facebook (the National Trust regularly spot illegal footage on Facebook pages such as I Love the Lake District).
Please read the policy statement below from the National Trust regarding the use of drones/UAV’s on or over the sites and land in Cumbria and the Lake District:
The use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or drones as they are more commonly known, is not permitted on or over National Trust land as part of our byelaws without the necessary required qualifications and a licence granted by us. We are experiencing increasing issues with drones on our sites on the Lake District and we expect this to continue as the technology becomes more available.
Why we don’t allow drones to fly at National Trust sites on the Lake District in Cumbria:
- The use of drones is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and it is a developing area which is coming under greater scrutiny. Few non-commercial users have the correct training or permission to operate drones, which creates a serious risk to our staff, volunteers, visitors, property and wildlife. We have therefore adopted a strict blanket policy banning the use of drones at our sites.
- The use of aerial vehicles is also prohibited by the Trust “byelaws”. The byelaws reflect the charitable core purposes of the Trust to enable us to preserve special places for the nation.
- Should a drone cause damage or harm, pilots generally do not have the correct insurances to compensate the Trust for remedial actions.
- Drones should not be flown over people; as much of our land is open access we cannot guarantee an area, even if remote, is completely empty.
- Drones should not flown near property; the special nature of our properties makes the risk of damage more severe.
- The Lake District & Cumbria is an important area for wildlife and is covered by many national and international conservation designations. Much of the wildlife use our sites for breeding and are sensitive to disturbance and some species are given additional protection that can result in prosecution if photographed in certain situations. Many birds see drones as a threat and may abandon nests.
- Many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and potentially could contravene National Trust rules on photography and filming.
- The presence of drones can be detrimental to the enjoyment of our sites by other visitors.
We therefore do not allow drone flying from or over National Trust land in Cumbria. The only exception being contractors or staff who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have specific insurances and have been commissioned or authorised by the Trust for a specific purpose – and in these cases the activity is strictly controlled.
The regulatory environment regarding drones is rapidly developing. We will continue to monitor this development and keep our position under constant review.