Dorset Council Restrictions

Hello all, my local council (Dorset) are being very shady with me on their drone policies. I have asked several times for clear details of their drone policies both commercial and recreational as i do both but each time i ask they just link me to a page on their site that relates to production filming of tv and commercials etc whereas i do the odd commercial photogrphy or video job for private customers. I am in no way a giant production company, i am just a one man band so to speak.

Ive asked several times for links to any laws/bylaws covering drone flights in dorset but as yet they have not supplied any.

For instance, my local church wants me to take photos of the church for them soon, its in dorset and i have their permission to take off from their land but it being in dorset would suggest i have to pay the council a hefty fee to do so.

I just dont get why they are being so vague about it, if what they are telling me is true then every single amateur photographer that is wondering dorset taking photos then selling said photos on picfair or some other site is technically doing commercial work and has to pay the council a hefty fee to do so.

I get the feeling the council dont have a proper drone policy and are just covering it with the blanket fees of “commercial filming”

here is the link they keep sending me to, there is afee for filming then an extra fee for filming with a drone!

I think they’re being vague because, as you suggest, they don’t have specific policies, bylaws or PSPO’s in place covering the flight of UAV on or over their land. All district, borough and parish council bylaws and policies have to be by law available to view by the public so I would suggest trawling through their website if you’ve not already done so. They should all be on there somewhere but good luck with that I know how deep they bury them :slight_smile:

With regard to the Church. If you have permission to TOAL from their land then there is absolutely nothing the council can do about it. It’s private land and as long as you adhere to the CAA Drone Code you are perfectly OK to film what you like.

As I’ve said on a number of other threads, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the vast majority of councils, whether they be Borough, District or Parish, have been caught napping when it comes to the proliferation in small drone ownership and flying and now they’re scratching around ether ignoring it or trying to use old and irrelevant policies and bylaws to enforce their new thinking.

You could try putting in a FOI request and see where that goes but that will just take more time waiting.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that I’m not going to see if I need permission or not as nine out of ten times as soon as a council hears the word drone used they go into full on risk mitigation mode and say NO anyway. There are the odd exceptions such as my local council but in my opinion they’re rare. If I don’t know for sure I’ll land and leave but If I’m equally certain I’m OK to fly legally then I’ll stand my ground.


Thank you for your reply, yes i honestly think they are just fobbing me off becuase down the road in bournemouth (which is still in dorset) bournemouth council state very clearly on their site that they allow drone flight anywhere as long as the drone code is adhered to. 19 miles away in my home town of blandford i am being fobbed off so to speak.


Simon Hawkins on has sent FOI requests re uav flying to well over 500 local authorities, including Dorset. Their reply to him has just been published and, guess what, they’re procrastinating! They apologise for the delay in replying and say they will respond. Don’t hold your breath! Worth checking the website to check district & parish councils in your area. He’s had replies from all of them near me and none have any specific by-laws.


Yes I agree, check with the link above first, I think I did for someone recently but no info at that time meaning they didnt have anything in place, however now I feel its best to check their policy if they have one, if not then they don’t… so to speak, and rather than stir up a hornets nest just keep quiet until perhaps something does come up, we have had a few signs suddenly appear in parks etc. around the country, then you can challenge, they also need to give a minimum of 14 days notice before consultation starts, where , I dont know. Cheers

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Indeed, it seems dorset dont really have a policy because they are not sending one out or quoting any bylaws etc instead just trying to sting me with filming charges which dont really apply to a small time sole trader.

Its silly really when bournemouth quite happily allow drones and model aircraft providing your insured and follow the drone code. Dorset should be falling in line with that really, to me it looks like they are trying to capitalise!

Do you have a link to read or find the response from dorset council please?

Sounds like you have gone above and beyond in trying to find out, they haven’t made it clear, so I would suggest doing the flight / job and then begging forgiveness if they get grumpy. They haven’t left you much choice plus the church as asking for you to do it, so the parish / landowner is happy.

Have a good flight.


Here’s the link :

Hope that helps.


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Bylaws and PSPO’s only apply to publicly owned land. If the Church has given you permission to use their land to TOAL from it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the Council. At least that’s my understanding.

All the bylaws I’ve read seem to be purposely vague when it comes to the airspace above their land because I think they know they’re on particularly shaky ground when it comes to having powers to regulate who, how and what fly’s in it.

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but according to the council i have to pay them to film or photograph anything in dorset if its commercial work

Complete and utter shyte. Talking out of their arse. They have absolutely no right to charge you or anyone else for taking photographs of anything unless a mutually agreed and specific contract has been entered into. Are they saying that all tourists to Dorset should be paying to take a photo? Do all the local and national papers? The local and national TV crews? Do architects scoping a project? Do estate agents advertising land and building for sale that have other buildings in the shot? There are so many reason why this is complete nonsense.

Ask them to provide the legislation that grants them that power. They won’t because they can’t. This sort of local authority little big man syndrome really gets on my thruppenies. Please post or message me the name of the person that told you this or pass to me the correspondence saying so.

Saying all that they can, if a specific bylaw applies, demand a slice of any commercial pie but the bylaw has to be specific to a property or piece of individual land, not the whole bloody county.

This may help

Taking photographs that you intend to use in some commercial sense


Being engaged in commercial photography.

There is a difference between restrictions on commercial photography and photographs for some business or commercial use.

Commercial photography implies being involved in the activities as a commercial photographer, this is likely to involve going to a place to make a commercial or run a shoot with models, stylists, and a pre-defined client. If none of the apply you are not involved in commercial photography. Check the yellow pages or internet sites of commercial photographers, to get a better understanding of the services they provide, its basically commissioned advertising photography.

A commercial photographer does not go out and take speculative photos to potentially sell to someone, to put on picture libraries, and/or publish themselves as art or decorative products. The nearest they might get to this would be a commissioned advertising calendar. So if the restriction is no commercial photography, and you have no client and team etc. then this restriction does not apply to you.

Commercial use is more difficult to define. If you don’t think your photographs are for commercial use then restrictions do not apply.

Often other statements are used and you will need to consider their meaning, in your opinion are they trying to stop you doing something that implies a film crew, commercial shoot or the like or are they trying to just stop you selling any images taken from their property. It may be that they are concerned about insurance cover and liability to them if someone was injured, in other cases it may be that they want to share in the proceeds of your work or create a monopoly of supply of images to their own benefit. In other cases they may be just trying to limit damage that can occur with large groups of people involved in commercial operations.

You have two choices, to make up your own mind, or to ask.

Some councils also have bylaws, that appears to be about cashing in on the right to grant access to film in some areas, the Royal Parks, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square are examples of this, its not that you cannot make a commercial with loads of people, its just they want a very large fee for granting you the right.

Some other organisations and businesses may make a reasonable charge to cover the cost of a staff member to come with you and make sure that everything is done right without putting the public or others at risk.


The link to the page they sent me is in my original post at the top, it came from “the communications team”

Thanks. I should have seen that. I personally think that refers specifically to large scale TV and movie production companies, not the single person doing roof surveying work for an estate agent or such like. The document constantly refers to the ‘company’ and goes on to mention how many persons involved, equipment, care of the land etc etc. This portion tells me this isn’t aimed at you or me and I would imagine that all other councils have something similar in force.

  • productions needing permission to film must provide Dorset Council with the following details:
    • the name of the production company, the type of production and a contact person and telephone number
    • the scale of the production in terms of numbers of personnel and vehicles
    • the type of shots and equipment being used – including the use of drones or intending to stream ‘live’ footage
    • the removal, alteration and disguising of street furniture and carriageway markings
    • the use of cranes, aircraft, cherrypickers, track, low-loaders, ‘A’ frames and other potentially hazardous equipment in a public place
    • the use of special effects, rain or snow machines, wet downs and stunt work on public footways or carriageways
    • productions which depict subjects of a controversial nature
    • filming involving children or animals (performances involving children may require a Performance Licence)
    • adequate public liability insurance and other relevant insurances

They’re filming The Bay around us at the moment, those clauses are aimed at that sort of production.

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That’s what I figured but if I ask them for their drone policy this is what they send me, but have not at any point told me that I cannot fly my drone, they seem to stop short of that.

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Because in reality they can’t without a bylaw or PSPO in place specific to that area/land


I recently bought a mini 2 to use in and around Dorset and did find council information vague, however and this is a very big however I thought I’m not going to call them and bring it to their attention because give a counsellor or a council employee a chance to make a name for themselves and they will do. I adhere to the drone flying rules and will carry on flying.
Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.


^^^ A thousand times this.