Legality of Public Spaces Protection Order Without a Date

I recently had a discussion with an officer from Tonbridge & Malling Borough council. He said that they had banned the take off from all council owned land. When I asked is that by a byelaw he said not, they are using PSPO. Out of the curiosity, I did a quick search on their website and found the relevant document:

What caught my eye on it immediately, is right at the beginning:

From [date] it is an offence for a person without reasonable excuse:

Note the missing date in the date!

From the legal point of view, what do you guys think, is this is enforceable?

Interestingly, the officer also told me they had to do this because of too many people have been flying drones without any regard to safety and other people (e.g. in parks near people etc.) and also mentioned the prison is a hotspot. I told him that the flights over the prison are CAA’s juridiction so he shouldn’t bother himself with that.

He also made very clear that they are not trying to prevenet people from flying drones from council land, they just want to know when and where in case there are issues. They will pretty much grant the permission as long as you send them an email and tell when and where you are going to fly.


I wouldn’t be quizzing them

Surely commercial flight (for stock footage) is acceptable then ? (again I wouldn’t poke the bear by asking)

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Where it states “No person may operate a drone from or in any open space owned by the Borough Council without first obtaining authorisation from the Borough Council”, this suggests (open space) could be read as that they control the airspace, which they do not!! Be good to see someone challenge this by flying from outside ‘their’ boundary, over their land. The open spaces I think <250 drones are restricted from are National Trust Parkland and sites, unless I am mistaken. Being a newbie, I may well be wrong on this.

That document is already out of date, a PSPO can only last 3 years, unless they have made a proposal to extend, and for that they would need evidence that the issue is ongoing.

Its past that ;o)

Duration of orders

(1)A public spaces protection order may not have effect for a period of more than 3 years, unless extended under this section.

(2)Before the time when a public spaces protection order is due to expire, the local authority that made the order may extend the period for which it has effect if satisfied on reasonable grounds that doing so is necessary to prevent—

(a)occurrence or recurrence after that time of the activities identified in the order, or

(b)an increase in the frequency or seriousness of those activities after that time.

(3)An extension under this section—

(a)may not be for a period of more than 3 years;

(b)must be published in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.

(4)A public spaces protection order may be extended under this section more than once.

disclaimer I am not a lawyer, but in my 30 years as a Union Rep I like to read shit properly and question anything that affects the little man


Bit more digging, the PSPO was put in place on 12/4/2020


They are not trying to ban drones flying over their area. I mentioned this to the officer and he was well aware of the legislation. They know they don’t own the airspace and can’t stop people taking off outside their land.

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Yeah, it’s funnily worded, but he said they give permission if you just ask.


Brilliant! Not that I will tell them, but goid to know if I go fly there. On the other hand, just telling them where and when you want to fly and get permission without a hassle may be more beneficial for everyone in a long run.


Nope, not a byelaw and they make it clear in their reply as well.


Very interesting, thanks for posting it, something to add to the archive… Cheers

Interesting video on this subject from Geeksvana

Just had a memo from the above Council specifying that in order to fly a drone on council administered open space , to be consider you will need to provide,

  1. Risk Assessments.
    2 Method Statements.
    3 Flight Plan including duration of flight.
  2. Copy of Public Liability Insurance.

In addition if the drone is over 250g. A copy of an Operators licence…

Well over the top and in my opinion in excess of their powers and not what the definition of a Public Space Protection Order was intended to be used for.

I welcome any comments.

Can you upload or share a link to the full document please @Maxpower ?

Discussed before

Did you get my copy.

Leicester City Council have had something in place for years, Police only can fly from Council owned land plus filming upon application for a permit…

My view is that the PSPO Guidlines indicate that the object of the order is to prevent public nuisance and disorder,it was never intended to be used as a tool to prevent the legal pastime of flying a drone. It states that the council should look at existing legislation to see if it’s adequate, but even that is irrelevant as the legislation was clearly not meant to criminalise legitimate pastimes. To implement one as they have exceeds their power and is unreasonable. It needs challenging.

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From 12 April 2020

A public spaces protection order may not have effect for a period of more than 3 years, unless extended under this section
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

So out of date then ?
After April 2023 ?

Latest one -

Got to wait another three years - when they next apply

Lots of councils are using PSPO’s to ban drone flying from their land because they are easier and less expensive to get approved than bylaws, they do however need to provide evidence that the activity relating to the PSPO has in the past been a constant cause of complaint or damage to property. It would be interesting to see what evidence they are providing against drone flying.

Black Belt Barrister, where are you?

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Bang in an FOI, also one to the local police to get some evidence, then challenge it