Flying drones in Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Council have updated their drone policy in line with the new 31st Dec drone regulations.

“In line with CAA guidance, The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) should be contacted as a landowner with regard to access to Council land or property from which to launch or land a drone.”
So looks like flying even a Mini 2 is out unless you want to go through the hoops of making an application ‘well in advance’ or find non-council land to take off from :slightly_frowning_face:

Probably like most of us, I check the weather a day or two before a planned flight, then make the decision to fly or not. Making an application for a flight well in advance just isn’t feasible.

How does that work with the right to roam laws in Scotland? Its not something I’ve delved too deeply into to be honest but something I think I’m going to have to look into

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It’s not really got anything to do with the right to roam law. The drone code says that you must follow any flying restrictions e.g. byelaws. "Byelaws - Byelaws may restrict when and where you can fly from.
Look out for local signs for information and contact details where you can find out more. Byelaws are unlikely to be shown on apps or drone websites."

Whether or not Edinburgh City Council has got their new drone policy in their byelaws yet or not, I don’t know.

If it’s a byelaw, it doesn’t feature in Register of byelaws – The City of Edinburgh Council, but this does not look like an exhaustive list anyway.

Until this posting I had felt fairly comfortable with flying from Edinburgh Council land. There a couple of reasons:

  1. I shared with the Council’s Parks department some drone footage that I filmed for Friends of the Braid Hills (see Redirecting...). There were no words of censure, and they supplied some of the information in the film to me
  2. I have flown around many of Edinburgh’s public parks (for example, Arthur’s Seat, Saughton Park, Craiglockhart Hill and Spylaw) and occasionally seen park workers there. Usually there was no interaction, but on several occasions they have shown a polite interest and nothing more

With this experience, I am unlikely to seek permission in advance, and I will wonder if this initiative is related to another experience. Edinburgh Council approached some of its citizens and asked them to complete an anonymous questionnaire on the use of Edinburgh’s land for filming. It was clear they were working out if and how much they could charge for filming. Some sample questions (and my answers), below:

Scale and impact
3 To what extent do you agree that decisions on events and filming should be based on the impact they will have on people and places?

4 Please use the space below for any comments or suggestions on the above.
A rather strange question - if there was no impact on the people and places, why would there even be a issue? I would disagree with the notion that if someone objected to filming then the permission would not be granted.

Community wealth building
8 To what extent do you agree that ‘The use of council-owned or public good sites for commercial events should be framed within a Community wealth building approach.’?
9 Please use the space below for any comments or suggestions on the above.
If communities wish to increase wealth they can use taxes, local fundraising or voluntary contributions. To penalise users to benefit non-users seems ridiculous.
Open and transparent information

10 At what stage would you like to have information on events and filming?
When the event or filming is approved

11 Please use the space below for any comments or suggestions on the above.
People film all the time - their iPhones, drones, doorbell security systems…! This “unapproved” filming is far more prevalent than anything requiring a formal application.

13 Please use the space below for any comments or suggestions on the above.
It is not clear to me what size of event the authors of this questionnaire are considering.

For me the bottom line is in the .pdf Drone Filming in Edinburgh:
“If person/persons are found to be using an unauthorised drone or model aircraft on or from CEC
land without permission they will be requested to stop immediately. If the user refuses to stop,
Police Scotland will be called to attend to cease activity and remove the user from CEC land.”

I can live with that, since I would usually stop if someone asks nicely. The strange thing is in the wording of the first sentence. There really is no such thing as “an unauthorised drone” - I have a UK-registered drone - so in any case I will not be flying, “an unauthorised drone … without permission”.

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Yeah I’d be happy to stop too, but if you are not flying "recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.” as CEC quoted, then what are the police going to do?
If they are going to remove you from CEC land where are they going to put you? CEC land is a big area :joy:
My argument would be I’m not ‘Filming in Edinburgh’ I’m taking photographs :wink: :grin:

If the allegation is that you are breaching a bye-law, the police can be called, but may be reluctant to enforce such a law. If the allegation is that you are on CEC land without permission, the police have no power to act: trespass is a civil matter. Whether CEC could eject somebody from public land like a park, with no bye-law in place, where they’re just engaged in ordinary recreational activity, is legally dubious, to put it mildly.

My view on this is really simple: there’s NOTHING special about flying a drone if you are obeying the aviation regulations, just the same as if you are taking photos on your mobile, flying a kite, or walking your dog. If you don’t go looking on websites to find out about permission for any of these, why do so to fly a drone?

Good point :+1:

This seems to be a new council policy rather than a byelaw (at the moment), but to have to apply for permission to use drones on all “council managed land including parks, roads and public open spaces” is ridiculous.

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I think it’s a way to tag people who may be using a drone in the area. You apply, they say “No” but then they make note of your details for the next time an “unauthorized” flight is detected.

Does the DJI Go 4 app not report your activity via the UUID transmission feature, which I think is turned on by default?