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Farmers need to know the law on flying drones over their land

By Spalding Today Columnist

Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, have been used commercially since the 1980s; however, their popularity is ever increasing as the benefits become better communicated and as the drones themselves become more affordable.

Agriculture is one area where they have proved invaluable and research indicates that approximately 20 per cent of UK agricultural businesses already use drone technology and many more are looking into it.

As this drone use becomes more common, it is increasingly important that operators know the law on licensing, insurance and safe operation to avoid accidents and penalties for infringing regulations.

Only last week, tighter restrictions were bought in regarding drone usage around airfields. Fenland Airfield at Holbeach St Johns now has an exclusion zone of two nautical miles, making it illegal to fly drones in this area unless permission has been granted by the airfield.

Users also need to be clear whether they are recreational, non-recreational or commercial operators from a licensing and insurance perspective.

Users for purely recreational purposes do not need specific licensing and third party liability insurance should be covered by the operator’s household insurance.

Farmers who use their drone on their own land for their own business purposes only are designated as non-recreational users.

Whilst they do not require a Permission for Commercial Operators licence, they do need third party liability insurance. This will require separate insurance arrangements, as third party liability arising from aerial devices is a standard exclusion on farm and commercial insurance policies.


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