POLL: Drones banned on Primrose Hill due to safety fears
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
They were at the top of thousands of children’s Christmas lists, but families could now find themselves with a new toy left firmly in its box.
Over the past few weeks, signs reminding the public that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are banned in the Royal Parks have popped up around entrances.
The ban – “by order of the secretary of state” – comes as Londoners flock to the Royal Parks, including Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park, to enjoy their new-found hobby.
More and more videos are being posted online of footage captured from drones, giving stunning panoramic views of open spaces like Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath and Alexandra Park.
From a military weapon to the shelves in our shops, a remote-controlled drone complete with high definition video camera can now be bought for as little as £25.
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More advanced models featuring live video streaming to smartphones, built-in GPS and the ability to programme flight paths, are also available, but at a cost of around £4,000.
So popular have the small remote ’copters become that online photo sharing site Instagram has seen a rival Dronestagram set up, while “selfie” self-portrait pictures are being replaced by “dronies”.
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But for park keepers and the police, their use has come to be seen as a menace and a security threat.
A spokesperson for the Royal Parks confirmed they were banned in Primrose Hill, adding: “We recognise their growing popularity, but they can have a very negative impact on the wildlife in the parks and also interfere with the safety and comfort of park visitors.”
The ban, which uses existing legislation, marks the spread of yet more of London’s skyline becoming a no-fly-zone.
While the City of London Corporation has not banned drones from Hampstead Heath, it said that “there are health and safety risks associated with flying a drone in an open space, especially when it’s busy”.
The corporation added that its constabulary will actively manage drone use, “taking into consideration public safety”.
A similar stance is adopted at Alexandra Park in Haringey.
Mike Evison, Alexandra Park manager, said: “People who come with their drones usually contact us beforehand but if our security sees them flying around, they’ll direct them to less congested areas.
“We don’t have any specific legislation to enforce. The only thing we adhere to is policing against reckless use. As their usage becomes more common we’ll perhaps look again at the rules.”
It is illegal to fly drones over congested areas and the prospect of seeing skies littered with flying cameras has prompted police to voice their own concerns.
Chf Insp Nick Aldworth, of the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Operations unit, said: “I compare them to cars.
“They are perfectly legal to own but it is very easy to break the laws when you’re driving. We also recognise that people will use these devices for criminal purposes and we want to send them a message.”
Last April saw the first UK conviction brought against a drone-user – a man from Cumbria who crashed his camera drone near to a nuclear submarine testing base.
He was ordered to pay £4,300.