Flying on Hampstead Heath (London)?

I’m interested in people’s thoughts about flying on Hampstead Heath. For those that don’t know, Hampstead Heath is a huge area of open land in North London - in many ways ideal for drone flying.

It’s owned and run by the Corporation of London.

It’s clear that they’re not keen on Drones.
On their website they say: Flying drones for recreation is prohibited on the Heath.

Hampstead Heath rules and byelaws - City of London.

However I can’t see anything in their byelaws about drones (or model aircraft). And if you read their drone policy they say that the reason they ban drone flying is that they consider all of the Heath to be a congested zone and therefore drone flying there is illegal.

Of course, with the change in the rules it’s now perfectly legal to fly certain classes of drone in congested zones. So presumably it’s now legal to fly in hampstead heath.

So one option is fly there but face the possibility of having to argue with park authorities.
Or avoid in completely - thereby missing out on one of the best London sites.
Is there a third option where we as a community try to engage with the corporation of London to come up with a sensible drone policy? Perhaps certain areas where drone flying is or isn’t encouraged?

And if so, is there a group than can do this and make representations on behalf of the drone hobbyist community?

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The air space on the Heath doesn’t have any restrictions:

So that’s half your battle won already :blush:

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Indeed. I’m confident that it is perfectly legal to fly there.

But, their website boldly states the drone flying is not permitted.
So if either a park ranger or a busybody member of the public comes up to you brandishing the website it’s going to be tough quoting Air Navigation Orders vs what appears to be a clear statement that you can’t fly drones on the heath.

So if we can constructively engage with the authorities that would be the preferable option.

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Engage with them, politely ask for the bye-law that prevents you using the park to take-off, fly over & land. As far as I’m aware, a notice like this on a website can only be upheld if there’s a bye-law to enforce it. Also point them in the direction of the law change, they might not be aware of it and, indeed, it might invalidate any bye-law preventing flights if they reference the CAA.

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I got bored after this part

  1. No person shall in any open space sort rags, bones, refuse or matter of like nature or mend any chair.

If I cant mend my chair then its probably not a place I want to visit.

But seriously, there are no CAA restrictions in place, I’d fly there (broken chair or not)

It would seem I am not alone.

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Yeah - the byelaws are crazy. You can’t shake rug, break a cup, sing or preach!

But no laws against drone flying.

I guess I’ll drop the park authorities a polite query.
But it would be so much better if there were a way for us as a hobbyist community to reach out to them rather than just individuals.

I’ll preempt the reply, which will be ‘deffo not’

I’d fly as long as its a Mini/2 or you satisfy A2 CofC you’re not breaking the laws of the land (or sky).

Better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

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I’ll preempt the reply, which will be ‘deffo not’

You could well be correct - though I wouldn’t just ask “can i fly my drone” which is easy for them to say no to.
But rather, can you specify the bye-law or other legal instrument which makes flying the drone illegal.

But maybe I will just try flying. Good chance I’ll get away with it but the parks police do maintain a fairly heavy presence on the Heath. Will report back unless I end up in the tower!

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The City Corporation will continue to monitor the use of drones on the Heath, and
any issues arising. If necessary, the City Corporation will consider applying for
additional powers to restrict the use of drones on the Heath, enforceable by the
Hampstead Heath Constabulary.

I’d go with that.

The Drone Code is on your side.

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Which is great for now.
But as I read it means there’s a good chance they’ll change their bye-laws to restrict drone use (perhaps banning it entirely).

This will probably be made more likely if lots of drone users fly here there and everywhere (even if they’re flying legally).

So can we pre-emptively engage with them to find a compromise that will result in some restriction but allowing us to fly in certain areas?

That’s why I think come kind of community approach would be benficial.

Just launch outside the heath boundary and fly, they don’t control the airspace :ok_hand:

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I know this is an old thread but wondering if people have been flying there lately? I’m new to this and I’m hearing different things about Hamstead heath. Would be perfect for me.

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Looks like they’ve updated their guidance recently, though it’s still a little unclear.

In the above document under the “Drone Guidance” section they say “Flying drones on Hampstead Heath requires a permit”. However, there is nothing about drones in any of the actual byelaws, so I expect this is legally unenforcable.

Also, somewhat confusingly, they then link to this PDF which seems to indicate you’re ok to fly as long as you are following all the CAA regs etc.

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Well spotted.

Think I’ll keep a copy of the PDF on my phone so if I’m every challenged I can show them that there own official document says I can fly if I follow CAA rules.

Heres how it goes down. Someone approaches the authority for clarification as to what by-law is in place regarding drone usage in their jurisdiction. If there isn’t one already, I guarantee there would be one created at their first available opportunity. Bureaucrats hate being challenged and will go to any lengths to make their point. In these circumstances, at that location, if caught, I would plead ignorance. “I didn’t know officer, I’m sorry…” And hope they had already made their quota for the month and you would be considered not worth the effort. Launch in a quiet part of the park, from at least 100 meters away, and hide in the bushes. Keep as far away from people as possible to minimise annoying someone enough that they 999 on you. A spotter would be very useful to have. I would love to do night flying up there. With nav lights suitably taped over of course.

By definition, flying drones there requires the flight to launch and land in their jurisdiction. For which they can extort a permit fee. However, they cannot legislate the airspace, and overflight rules apply.

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I see that they have included their trump card. “ causing harassment, alarm and distress to other Heath users;”, which is a catch all, with no level of credibility required by any such “victim”. All it takes is one “Karen” to ruin the picnic…

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Has anyone tried applying for a drone permit from the Hampstead Heath website? What was the outcome, and what kind of drone was it?

(though as @SecretFlyer points out, the byelaws and the “guidance” PDF don’t seem to say anything about requiring a permit…)

@Aviato they make it sound like that form is just for commercial flights:

:thinking: :man_shrugging:t2:

Well the form itself has a field called “Drone Operator’s Company (if applicable)” which is not required, while all other fields are required fields (and those aren’t specific to commercial flights). So there’s no indication that it’s for commercial flights only…