More protection from irresponsible drone use is needed, NFU says

Drone.
Drone.

The NFU is calling for more protection for farmers and their stock who are vulnerable to irresponsible use of drones, as the Department for Transport launches a consultation on proposed measures.

As drone use on farm is multi-dimensional and can improve production efficiency for farm businesses, the NFU will be responding to the consultation to emphasise that the professional and responsible agricultural use of drones must be protected to enable farms to continue to use them safely. The NFU will also be addressing concerns over their misuse.

New measures being consulted on include mandatory registration of new drones over 250 grams, a theory test for users, increased penalties for misuse of drones and potential new criminal offences to deter and address misbehavior with drones.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The NFU welcomes this consultation and we urge our members to contact us to feed in their views. Drone use on farm is multi-dimensional and we will communicate to Government the advantages this can have for farmers – from gathering data to recording images of their farm.

“There are exciting developments in the pipeline for on farm drone use, such as crop applications, which could keep British farming at the cutting edge and internationally competitive.

“However, we are also very aware of instances of irresponsible use of drones by members of the public and have already seen the first instances of sheep worrying by drones. Therefore, we are calling for Government to address this and are hopeful that any new legislation will introduce measures to protect farmers and landowners from this behaviour.

“In any instance, we would stress to drone owners the importance of not flying near livestock, who react in very unpredictable ways. There is risk of causing distress to the animals, sometimes fatal, and can lead to trampling. These actions impact greatly on farm businesses and we urge that care is taken when flying drones in areas of farmland, in particular.

“Any drone owner should be responsible with its use and ensure the safety of people, animals and land. We would stress to any owner that they are familiar with the rules so they fly this machinery within the law.”