Monthly Archives

July 2016

Drone, National, Trust, Lake, District, hovershotz, skylark, uav,

Filming with drones commercially within the Lake District National Park & on or over National Trust Land

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys in the Lake District. | No Comments

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.


Drones, quadcopters, hexacopters, octacopters, UAV, RPAS

Different terminology for drones, UAV’s unmanned aerial aircraft etc.

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys | No Comments

There’s some confusion over the correct terminology for remotely controlled unmanned aerial aircraft, commonly known as drones  or UAV’s.

There are a number of different terms used to describe these aircraft, all tend to be randomly interchanged depending on the user, but they broadly refer to the same thing.

The most common names are:  ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ (UAV); ‘Small Unmanned Aircraft’ (SUA); ‘Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft’ (SUSA); ‘Remotely or remote Piloted Aircraft System’ (RPAS); ‘Remotely Operated Vehicle’ (ROV);  ‘Unmanned Aircraft System’ (UAS); Helicam; Drone; Quadcopter; Hexacopter; Octocopter.

Which is correct? Well, probably all of them with the exception of Drone, which by definition is pilotless and it’s route pre-programmed.

So in conclusion, what should we call them? Hovershotz, prefer and use the term UAV (short for unmanned aerial vehicle) when speaking to other UAV operators, however our customers tend to call them ‘drones’, so when speaking with  customers we usually use the term drone.

Hope that cleared that one up lol 😉


Hovershotz are a commercial drone operator, working out of the English Lake District in Cumbria



Legal & proud drone pilot


By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys | No Comments

This is a brief summary of the current legal situation in as plain English as Hovershotz can do. Please refer to the air navigation order on the CAA site for specific details.

The following rules apply to both commercial drone operators and hobby drone pilots who fly for fun. What defines a commercial drone pilot is if they fly for financial gain or reward (i.e are they getting paid or do they benefit financial in some way from aerial work). This also applies to any business that uses a drone for business use even though they are not charging anyone; i.e. an estate agent taking aerial photographs to help sell a property –  although they are not charging anyone for the photograph, the aerial photograph helps sell the house, so assuming the estate agent gets paid for selling the house, then that estate agent needs a licence (in the UK this is called a Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) and is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.

  • You need the landowner’s permission, where you take off and land your drone
  • The operation of the aircraft or drone must not endanger anyone or anything
  • The aircraft must be kept within the visual line of sight (within 500 metres horizontally and 400 ft vertically) of its remote pilot (i.e. the ‘person in charge’ of it).

As a comparison, the London Eye is 443ft, Blackpool Tower is 518ft and the Spinnaker Tower on the Portsmouth waterfront 560ft. Of course, drones must be kept well away from all structures, as well as built-up areas in general, but if you can visualize any of these landmarks then you know that you need to keep well below their highest point. Of course, manned aircraft can fly lower than 400ft, particularly helicopters, so it is vital you still keep a good lookout. Operations beyond these distances must be approved by the CAA.


If the aircraft/drone is fitted with a camera or used for surveillance then the aircraft must not be flown:

  • over or within 150 metres of any congested area
  • over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
  • within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft
  • within 50 metres of any person except during take-off or landing, the aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person except for the person in charge of the aircraft or any person under control of the pilot or designated observer.

Careful note should be taken that the collection of images of identifiable individuals, even inadvertently, when using surveillance cameras mounted on a small unmanned surveillance aircraft, will be subject to the Data Protection Act. As this Act contains requirements concerning the collection, storage and use of such images, Small Unmanned Aircraft operators should ensure that they are complying with any such applicable requirements or exemptions. Further information about the Data Protection Act and the circumstances in which it applies can be obtained from the Information Commissioner’s Office and website:

Do Estate Agents Need a Licence or Permission to Take Aerial Photographs with a Drone (even if they don’t charge extra)?

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

Many Estate Agents believe that if they buy and operate their own drone to take aerial photographs to help sell properties; don’t need licences or permission from the Civil Aviation Authority, because they are not charging anyone for the service. This would only apply if they were not charging their clients for selling their property and Hovershotz are not aware of any UK Estate Agent who offers their services to sell a property for free. The specific definition from the CAA regarding whether their permission for aerial work is required ‘is if the drone photographer is operating for financial gain, consideration or remuneration’ – this would include (as in the case of estate agents) if the aerial drone photograph helps sell the house (even if the estate agent did not make a specific charge for that photo) or even if you were filming a biscuit factory from the air and they gave you a free packet of biscuits as way of thanks

The fines for operating a drone commercially in the UK without Civil Aviation Authority Permission for Aerial Work (CAA PFAW), is a fine of up to £5,000 and confiscation of the drone. This also applies to any company hiring a drone company who do not hold a current CAA PFAW and the necessary insurance. It’s relatively easy to fall foul of the law and face prosecution, as all estate agents post pictures online of the properties for sale, so any image captured illegally is easily spotted. There are many whistle blowers out their trawling the internet and reporting unlicenced drone operators to the authorities.

So for any estate agent going it alone’ and buying their own drone for aerial photography of properties, they will have to secure the agreement of the Civil Aviation Authority and gain obtain appropriate insurance.

This doesn’t just apply to Estate Agents (we chose Estate Agents as we know of a handful who were operating a drone to photograph properties unaware that they were doing so illegally), it applies to any business or individual operating a drone for financial consideration.

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