Anti Drone Public Spaces Protection Orders

I thought it would be useful to start a thread about the worrying use of PSPOs by council to ban drone use.

I live in Brent, NW London, and the council have introduced a PSPO covering all council owned open spaces and banning all drone flying (without written permission from the council.)
See: Brent Council - Public Spaces Protection Orders
"
The following are prohibited:

  • Flying of drones or any other form of model aircraft without the written consent of the London Borough of Brent."

It’s pretty galling to see drone flying (even when obeying all other legal restrictions) is classed as being as anti-social as urinating or vandalism.

The PSPO came in in 2019 and will last for 3 years (with possible extension).

I wonder if this is widespread?

The question is, is there anything we can do as a community to fight such orders. It seems to me that a blanket prohibition on drones is completely disproportionate to the amount of disturbance caused by drones. I’m planning to ask the council just how many drone related incidents they’ve actually had.

Does anyone know if there is any process we can use to challenge these (short of spending 1000’s on legal fees)?
Do councils really have the power to ban almost any otherwise legal activity on their land without even having to pass a bye-law?

Any experience / advice appreciated.

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The powers to create PSPOs come from the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The council needs to be “satisfied on reasonable grounds” that the anti-social activities specified in the PSPO have already “had a detrimental effect on the quality of the life” of local people or that this is likely to happen. They also need to be satisfied that the activities are “of a persistent and continuing nature” and “unreasonable”.

Challenging the PSPO in the courts is difficult and there are time limits on this. So the only reasonable approach might be political: get to know local councillors and make sure they have a positive view of you (a lone drone pest is unlikely to get any attention if they think other voters just see drones as a menace). Request evidence from the council that the conditions for the PSPO have been met: have they had drone complaints connected with this specific public space?

Have they followed the guidance to local authorities here?

There are a range of consultations that are required before a PSPO is introduced: ask for evidence of what consultations were held, and what responses led to the inclusion of the anti-drone measures.

That indicates that PSPOs need to relate to specific anti-social behaviours and deal with them proportionately. They are not just a blanket opportunity to ban anything the council feels like. Banning all drones may not be proportionate if they could instead just ban them from being flown closely to people, or recklessly.

Find out the date when the PSPO expires, because you may not be able to to anything about one that is already in place, but may be able to get the council to take their obligations more seriously when it is renewed. If there has been no anti-social behaviour, they don’t automatically get to continue the restrictions - they have to show evidence that anti-social behaviour is likely to return.

Re: legal challenges, these two articles will convince you that it’s pointless:

Overall, I think you will have little or no success whatever approach you take. Councillors and council officers, in my experience, fall on the side of people who moan, however unreasonable their complaints, if they think they represent the “common” point of view. If you did want to pursue it, you need to get a councillor on your side, and the best way to do that might be to show that a group of people are unfairly affected. Could you set up a local area drone users group via Facebook and make a joint approach? I’m not sure I’d rate chances of success highly enough to invest the time, to be honest.

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I have been flying UAVs for three years now and have never even seen another drone in flight during that time let alone seen any dangerous flying!
Totally over the top behaviour by these councils who have no real power so they are just trying to play the bully to warrant their existence. Perhaps they should find out from the CAA and this organisation what the problem is or is not before taking these draconian measures. I expect they find watching nature films and many other programmes beneficial and about 40% of the shots in those are from UAVs.
Malcolm Kemp

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Any landowner can stop you launching/landing your drone from their land. However, my understanding is that have no control of the air above their land. The CAA controls the air, not the landowner. I don’t know Brent, but there must be places not owned/controlled by the council from which you can launch/land. Once airborne they have no power unless you cause a nuisance. Or am I being too simplistic?

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I’m actually in the process of challenging dundee council and its draconian drone ban considering the new rules. It was brought in by a old councillor who clearly hated both technology and the idea of free fun for everyone. Claimed no one contested the barely publicised 2019 rule on it but I would counter that with considering how niche it was back then and how its boomed in popularity that this should be re-examined. Guess were about to get a lesson in just how democratic councils actually are. Law unto themselves comes to mind.

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I used to live in Brent(Wembley) and the council there have historically been very far left, that combined with the “cancel everything we don’t like” culture you have a real fight on your hands.

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Nothing so far in cumbria Im aware of, and in the national park the lake district seem to have taken a very sensible approach, unlike the Peak District.
It seems to be contraditory to have the CAA change the rules the way they have to be workable, and then have local councils shit all over it due to a dislike of drones.

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Whatever happened to live and let live? I mean I like dogs generally but I’m not mad keen on them running round if I’m on the beach with our daughter because they can be unpredictable and dangerous but I know they’re usually fine and people love them. It’s something they enjoy so it’s part of living in a society and I woudn’t want them banned just because I don’t have one.

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Where I live, there are two PSPO’s in effect.

Drinking in the town centre; that’s wandering up and down the high street with a can of special brew in one hand and a red/blue stripey carrier bag from the offy with extra cans in the other. Fair enough.

The other one covers dog shit that isn’t cleaned up by their owners. Again, fair enough.

For a PSPO to be valid, there needs to be a body of evidence, a file full of complaints, to support a drone ban.

I’d FOI the Jesus outta your local council for evidence to support the PSPO.

Ned

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Note that if you are a local who is affected by a PSPO, you can only launch a legal challenge in the first six weeks after it’s introduced. After that, you have to wait until it expires and challenge any attempt to renew it.

May be worth a letter to your MP, bring it up in the commons. Add to the weight of others such as Liberty who are fighting to stop the misuse of PSPOs.

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I didn’t think local councils had to answer FOI in the normal way police etc do ?

Cancel that done some more geeking.

Bug away, they have to answer

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I found out yesterday from a mate from the gym that its the same here, drinking and dog crap. Anyway, apparently to get the body of evidence and make the case he seen a few people from the council spray all the dog shits bright yellow and photograph them. Then they photographed them from the air with a drone to show just how much there was and how problematic it is.
For the first time ever Im actually quite impressed by my council.

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In Danbury, Essex they have a council local bylaw that says not flying drones specifically. In the Chelmsford Council Parks I am told you can not fly drones. We play football in the park in a fenced area which we pay the council to use weekly (not at the moment) even with the consent and involvement of the plays participating I have been told not to fly. I remember reading somewhere there is one park in London that has a flying area for drones Bob

Thanks for the suggestions / comments.

As several of you have said, the council is supposed to show the clear need for such a ban.
I’m going to try and find out what their justification is and how many incidents they’ve actually recorded.

My argument is that there are CAA regulations in place to prevent dangerous drone flying. For a PSPO to go further and ban legal flights it should be necessary to show there have been incidents where a drone flight that followed CAA rules was nevertheless causing public nuisance. I’m doubtful whether any such incidents have actually occurred.

Sadly - it seems as though even if I can show the council had scant grounds to justify the PSPO, there’s little that can be done. But hopefully if I (and others) object to these blanket bans they may be less likely to be renewed in the future.

There must be places not owned/controlled by the council from which you can launch/land.

Yes there are. The easiest for me is just to hop over to Camden where there isn’t any such rule.
It’s just that lots of potentially nice and safe flying spots are out of bounds.
It’s the principle as much as anything.

The irony is, if I understand correctly, I can fly from the streets in Brent (where the potential for causing a nuisance is much greater), just not in the parks (which are perfect for flying in).

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I wonder where the OA16 fits in with this.

Perhaps @FPVUK Simon can comment

I wonder where the OA16 fits in with this.

I don’t think it’ll make any difference.

The PSPO is saying “this activity, which otherwise would be legal, is now being made illegal in the specified area”.

However, as stated above, they can only cover activity on the ground - not the airspace.

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Look at this amazing reply from “Dundee” council they really a proper shower I class banning a ban when you basically say you cannot fly this on any council recreational area. Trying to skirt it on a technicality?

"As highlighted in my previous email, the Council has not banned the use of drones. Rather, the Council’s Management Rules require that permission is obtained first. It is my understanding that the Management Rules do not require to be updated until 2029, although this may happen sooner.

I would advise that you should email the address given in my previous email should you wish to apply for permission to operate a drone in Dundee."

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