Devon County council just making up fake laws banning drones from all public rights of way

I wonder what your take on this is:

Their Public Rights of Way Drone Code states:

The image they are using from the drone code doesn’t take into account the fact that that rule doesn’t apply to the DJI Mini 2 or other drones under 250g. Yet the council are claiming their byelaw would prohibit “drones” flying over any public right of way, based on their inclusion of an incomplete CAA rule. I came across this whilst checking into rules for flying on the canal (in Bradford) but somewhere in Devon people might be enforcing this and others might not know better to challenge it.

Am I misunderstanding this somehow?


I think that Devon may not be too bothered about updating their literature. They have a policy, it keeps members of public away from all drones.

But the rule is flying within a certain distance of people, not pathways. If I am flying across a deserted field then the rights of way around or across it aren’t going to stop me - unless someone is using those rights of way, Same with a towpath.

You do not need to avoid a towpath, you need to avoid a person using it. And all drone pilots fly within VLOS and keep their exceptionally keen eyes open for anything that may require them to change direction, height or to land for public safety - don’t they?

My opinion. Devon are talking bollocks.


Their PROW code visible today in 2022 was issued in May 2018 and references a version of a Drone Code leaflet which seems to have been issued in November 2016.

We don’t need to say any more, do we?


Here are said bylaws that have not been updated since 1999 and dont make any reference to drones or flying models at all


Can I fly my drone over the Canal?


(For all the reasons listed above)


I might have to dig out my old emails when I had to deal with the DEvon PROW team in Exeter a couple of years and ask them what they mean!

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They can’t even reply to an FOI properly, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

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Devin don’t control the canal, that’s the Canal & River Trust who also don’t want drones over the canals.


Exactly. They are wrong on any number of fronts and are incorrectly stating the legal position.


That filming and photos thing for the Canal Trust must be for people making money from filming? As them themselves run photographic competitions for canal photography.

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Photos taken with feet firmly on the ground only :joy:

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You are correct, the Canal and Rivers Trust only charge for commercial filming:

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Thanks all for the responses, so as you have all said and @Edmonton133 summarised: they are wrong on a number of points and are actively incorrectly stating the legal position in their literature, website, FAQ, etc:

Looking at this further and putting aside they have the law wrong and assuming the responsible drone flyer gets flyer/op ID and insurance and maybe A2 C of C, a 249 gm drone flown in accordance with CAP 722 etc cannot fly. However an electric bike weighing on average 25 kgs, no licence, no insurance requirement can bomb along the tow path at the permitted speed of 15 mph as close as it likes to pedestrians as they specifically authorise this pursuant to their by laws…….


I think it clearly shows the inherent negative and ignorant attitude towards drones by a lot of people. Once you actually stop to properly weigh the risks of a drone versus the e-bike there is no competition!

These figures are from ROSPA:

Exactly. The CAA specifically categorises a Mini 2 as low risk even if it hits someone hence its less restrictive permissions. Getting hit by a 25 kg bike at 15 mph is potentially fatal and certainly highly likely to cause very serious life changing injury. The statistics just published more than adequately evidence that!

The link I provided does not mention either recreational or commercial. They only charge for commercial, that doesn’t mean recreational can fly whenever wherever.

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But if it’s not prohibited it is allowed right?

Devon charge for commercial photography, TV companies etc. I would say this is not unreasonable. They are entitled to raise funds to maintain their facility. However, they say no recreational flying. I say they have the law wrong. In fact, they rely on an out of date drone code. Breach of even an up to date drone code does not give rise to an illegal or unlawful act of itself. Breach of the drone code might be evidence used in support of an unlawful act as is the case with the Highway Code. For example breach of the current drone code might very well be cogent evidence for a prosecution under Article 241. A code is just that a code. It is not a statue or by law. The code contains no provision for the consequences for breach because it’s a code. Breach of Devon’s by laws does. A fine at Level 2 (currently a maximum of £500 I believe). All that said, as long as you fly within the regulations relating to the category you are flying in with due regard to Article 241 and do not cause a nuisance in the legal sense unless Devon want to point me to where I am wrong, you can fly…….

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I have put in a Freedom of Information request to Devon County Council asking:

  1. Which committee approved the Public Rights of Way Drone Code?
  2. When did this committee approve the code?
  3. Are the minutes of that meeting available to view?

Dont hold your breath but if it hasnt gone through a democratic committee process it isnt law it’s just advice.