Historic Environment Scotland

Well, would you look who updated their UAS policy today…

TL;DR: If you want to fly on HES property you have to obtain permission. Permission will only be granted to those with an Operating Authority from the CAA, A2CofC/DMARES isn’t enough. You will have to pay a fee. If you take off from somewhere else and fly over their land, that’s fine. But don’t overfly the actual properties.

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on property under the care of HES must obtain prior consent.

Same old same old, hope it wont stop you flying over @JoeC


I’ll be honest, I found their policies okay before and this one isn’t bad either. It’s good to see them actually document that this only applies if you’re using their land for TOAL.

They’re stretching it a bit to say that all flights over their properties are prohibited… but given the ages and importance of the properties they are looking after I do understand and think I’ll forgive them. :slight_smile:


I live in St Andrews and sad to see the cathedral and castle fall under those guide lines. Had planned a shoot over there soon …not to be.

I think the operative words here are ‘on’ and ‘over’. Maybe ok if the drone is kept outside of the property boundary and an appropriate distance from buildings or people. Good views would be still available from a suitable height. Caerlaverock Castle is mentioned, and is a wonderful place - I visited it years ago. The actual castle and moat are only around 100 metres diameter, and a road is about 40 metres from the moat so one could get a good view from there. But if the road is also on Trust property it’s a non starter. Would also be sensible to fly outside of opening hours so that there is little tourist activity. Yet another grey area to plague us

All rubbish… the CAA control the Air Space and very clearly specify this, only the CAA can specify what type of Licence can be used and not the land owner, the land owner can restrict the take off and landing on their property only…

I suggest you take no notice of it…



I found the wording of the policy to be pretty interesting on this part, the way they switch between ‘land’ when talking about TOAL and ‘property’ for prohibiting overflights. The context suggests they want you to think they mean the whole of the ‘land’ they manage being prohibited for overflights, but it could easily be interpreted (and I think most people would reasonably do so) as only the bricks and mortar building. Given how clear the rest of the policy is, I’m not sure if this wasn’t deliberate.

That said…

Can they prohibit somebody with something like a Mini 2 from overflying the buildings they manage? They don’t control the airspace, true… but these are old (even ancient) structures of significant historical interest and they have published a policy stating that a drone strike “may cause irrevocable damage to the historic properties in our care”. I’d personally take that into account when considering my obligations under Article 241.

And, of course, there’s also Wheaton’s Law to consider. :wink:

edit to add:

I think they know they’re on a shoogly peg for this because they’re hedging their bets:

A pilot launching a UAS from outside HES land, who is not following a safe mode of flight or who is overflying our site, will be asked where possible to land the UAS or navigate it away from our site. In both instances, if the request is refused or if the pilot cannot be located, the incident will be reported to the police if the safety of our visitors, staff or property is compromised.

Which takes us back to Article 241 and Wheaton’s Law. :slight_smile:


We have had this many times before, unless there is specific Bye-Law or it is a CAA NFZ the shown link (bottom part of the page linked… Other Legitimate Interests) is the law, yes of course you need to be considerate and I hope most would be, but just to fly, we are not talking about taking a film crew in there, different thing… so flyers cannot be regulated by anyone apart from the CAA.


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Good luck arguing that with the police if HES call them and say you’re endangering an historic monument.

We have had this discussion here many times before, true. Generally it ends up splitting folk into three camps:

  1. I don’t care what the law says. I’ll fly my drone where I like when I like and nobody can tell me otherwise.

  2. Only the CAA can tell me where I can and can’t fly and heaven help anybody else who tries. I’ve printed out the email the CAA sent to Ian and this is a hill I’m prepared to die upon.

  3. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. There are other factors involved than airspace classification and sometimes it’s better to just find somewhere else to fly. Oh, and let me quote Article 241 at you repeatedly.

We all know which camp we sit in and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody change their minds. We are what we are.

Whenever I see this topic split this way I always think to myself that it’s a good job we don’t have a written constitution codifying our right to own automatic rifles. I reckon that would get messy in a hurry. :wink:


This is spot on.
Their wording is interesting and I think they’re basically making it too hard for average every day hobbyists to ask permission, and possibly scare them off from flying from adjacent land. And property versus land does imply to me thery’re referring to the bricks and mortar.

Yes, fundamentally, do they prevent hot air balloons or paragliders from flying over their properties? Probably not. But ultimately where are you going to get your best shots from? Flying directly over and facing down, or simply being up high but a good 50-100 metres away so you’re looking down on it from a diagonal perspective?

But fundamentally, it’s about consideration for everyone there, not just you getting your shot. So for that reason I tend to fly when it’s quiet or closed, partly to get a better picture with fewer people, but also, quite simply, to not piss everyone off…


Hi Yes, I fully agree, the consideration for everyone is important, of course that also includes hobbyists whatever the hobby it is, commercial use is a slightly different matter and not really being discussed here… however the police, land owners cannot just make up their own, new rules and regulations add hock… they just cant… monuments or whatever… !
A suggested during the A2 C of C preparation, you should pre-empt any possible problems and contact the police prior to any such flight, (101) explain that you may over fly a certain area following all of the rules and regulations and get a Crime Ref number, this is how they keep track of such things, it is not recorded as a crime… ha-ha, but purely for ref if someone else is required to check back, if they are contacted they have all the details which will stop any further discussion.
Follow all of the CAA, rules, Legally applied By-laws, (ask to see them if they actually exist, likely don’t as difficult to get… ) and if such exist and the notes as per the email from the CAA, below…

" UAVEnquiries UAVEnquiries@caa.co.uk
11:53 (4 hours ago)

Dear Sir

Thank you for your email

They do not own the airspace and if you abide by the ANO and other airspace restrictions in that area e.g. NOTAMs then you may operate.

Thank you,

Thomas Guest
UAV Services
Civil Aviation Authority
Tel: 0330 022 1908
Follow us on Twitter: @UK_CAA "

The CAA regulate the safety, not the land owner.

Thanks, this is enough for me, going to follow a different thread now, about batteries I think… :grinning:


“I’ll give you my Smart Controller when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” :wink:

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Ha-ha… at the moment cold is appropriate… so I’m not really missing going out at the moment… to be honest all of it is a pain, not just flying but other hobbies as well… I might take up shooting in a club… Ohh… I already do, but can’t… Golf… Ohhh… I already do occasionally… but can’t… Amateur radio… Ohhh… I already do… yeaaa… I can, as long as I dont go out and only talk to people… that’ll do me for the time being…

Happy flying… and hang on tight to that controller, one day you will need it the PM assures me…!


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That looks remarkably like my email that I got from them on this subject, to the letter… :wink:

You’re not suggesting they just automate replies, are you? :blush:

Not only that, but they only send their cookie-cutter emails out once a day, at 11:53! :wink:

Interesting read and probably UK wide implications.

Ach, same as National Trust sites etc, been covered on numerous forums :wink: