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Recreational Light Aircraft

This activity category includes all types of craft used for recreation in the air e.g. small planes and helicopters, microlights, paramotors, hang gliding, parascending (on beach), parasailing (by boat), drones (UAVs), and model aircraft.

Potential impacts on European Marine Sites include:

The risk of this pressure will increase depending on the spatial/ temporal scale and intensity of the activity, the proximity of the activity to the feature (in space and time) and the sensitivity of the feature to the pressure. Cumulative and in-combination effects of activities may increase the risk further. Factors such as height, speed and size of aircraft would need to be taken into consideration.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones, are increasingly being used by people for recreational purposes and they are also employed to monitor and protect wildlife.  Studies have shown that UAVs can be more efficient than traditional approaches to wildlife monitoring and can provide more precise observational data. Accordingly, there has been a considerable increase in the use of UAVs for research purposes.

Hampshire County Council’s Countryside Service has asked that unmanned aircraft (drones) are not operated from its land holdings. This follows guidance issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to help drone pilots fly safely and responsibly by following the drone code. The Countryside Service is considering how drone operators could be compliant with the drone code whilst on its land holdings in the future.

However, this new technology could also have undesirable and unforeseen impacts on wildlife, the risks of which we currently have little understanding.  Hodgson and colleague Lian Pin Koh have developed a code of best practices intended to help mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance to wildlife related to UAV use (see link below).


Legislation and Drones

In simple terms the regulations for small unmanned aircraft state that:

More information on the regulations can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

All UK land, including the coast, has an owner. Unlike the public rights of fishing and navigation and the Crown Estate's general permissive consent for public access along the foreshore, other activities, including the flying of UAD's, requires the landowner's permission.  Government agencies and Local authorities have the power to ban the flying of drones and other activities through the use of byelaws, and drone pilots should therefore check with the appropriate authority to ensure that no such ban is in place.  Pilots need permission from Natural England to fly over protected sites.

The UK government has announced new legislation due in 2018 which will mean that drones will have to be registered and users will have to sit safety awareness tests under  new rules to better regulate their growing use


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