Military bases

Is there a law that says we can’t fly over a military base (except the building/built up area bit) for instance a grass field that so happens to be MOD property?

They appear as blue restricted air space on the app and need self unlocking. You provide your details and DJI log it to allow flight, but if the property owner makes a complaint to the police they can find your details check you’re not a terrorist and leave you alone?

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From experience it’s not worth the hassle so I wouldn’t bother.

What kind of military base do you intend to fly over?
Why do you want to fly over it?
If it’s an area of high interest are you prepared to sully the already poor image that “drone enthusiasts” have if the incident were to go public?

At the military base I worked at, and others I was TDY to, no cell phones, smart watches, any kind of recording device, was allowed past the main entrance. So how do you think they would react to some random person flying a camera around the place?



Stay away mate. like Nidge said it’s not worth it .

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I took off just outside Lulworth range on a public parking spot, flew around for a bit then tried to land but it wouldn’t let me because DJI said no, so I had to land on an unsuitable spot (slope and long grass).

I’ve now learnt to land on the roof of my car so it doesn’t happen again.

As a side note two bi-planes flew through the valley at what appeared to be level with where I was maybe so below 400ft from the bottom of the hill, which was the point I came back and landed.

It’s a military range but wasn’t active that day, I knew nothing about planes flying through that area which is when I decided to do some research, found this place and downloaded the NATS app.

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Not good practice unless your car is made from non-ferrous material.

A lump of metal the size of a car roof will really screw with the onboard magnetometer (Compass) of your drone. Even more so if you decide you’re going to take off from any metal bodied part of a car.


I’ve never had a problem taking off from my car.

Indeed - some time ago I did a test from some 8mm think steel. Not a problem.

It’s a very unpredictable thing. Taking of from the top of a trig-point (brass plate on top and rebar inside) and it just threw error messages.

(That vid was because I wanted to fly out to, and land on and take off from, the helipad on top of The Needles Lighthouse. Still something I want to do.)

That would be an amazing video

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A heart monitor on me would be entertaining … as it neared touchdown and fearing it would never take-off again!
I wonder what response I’d get from Trinity House with a “Can I have my drone back, please, Mr!” phone call?

Re military bases, it’s an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000 to take or possess a photograph “containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Since drones can capture information probably more useful than what can be seen from ground level, you should be especially cautious taking drone photographs near military sites. You are at risk of your drone being seized under this one.

It’s also an offence under the Serious Ogranised Crime and Police Act 2005 to trespass on a “designated site”, which includes some military sites, nuclear sites, Royal palaces etc. You may not technically be trespassing if it’s just your drone, but I wouldn’t want to have to explain myself.

That information is incorrect.

Section 44 which I believe you refer of the terrorism act 2000 has been deleted because it broke EU laws on human rights grounds.

For the purposes of trespass being criminal a designated site is crown land like Windsor castle and the surrounding park, it doesn’t apply to Ministry of Defence land in which case it is a civil matter and you will be asked to leave. If you fail to leave you can be removed by the Police.

Just don’t. Honestly you’re just asking for trouble doing that.

Section 44 is indeed repealed, but it related to police powers to stop and search pretty much anyone they wanted to. They can still stop and search you if they suspect you of an offence, under their general power to do so.

It remains an offence under Section 57 if you possess “an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that [your] possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.”

Designated sites include a range of military bases and other defence sites, as set out in the link I already shared. I was fairly clear that this only applies to “some” military sites.

The article you referred to must be something that proves that person is a terrorist, an image of a field doesn’t prove anyone is a terrorist so it couldn’t be used against them. Similarly an image of a military establishment doesn’t. Having an image on your camera of you with a knife to a blind folded hostage would. A police officer might say “oh this proves you’re a terrorist”, the CPS would throw it out in my opinion.

I believe nuclear MOD sites would be designated.

My point of view comes off the back of photography not being a crime by the way. I believe it’s a grey area that the police themselves or members of the public don’t understand. There’s plenty of videos on youtube of ‘auditors’ visiting sites to prove a point.

@bobhouse I am with you 100% on defending the rights of photographers against unnecessary bureaucracy and policing.

I was mistaken in referencing Section 57 though, Section 58 is the one I was originally thinking of:

A person commits an offence if he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism

i.e. you don’t have to be suspected of being a terrorist. Your photographs just need to be something that could be useful to a terrorist. There are solid defences provided within the Act and I’m sure you are right that the CPS would not pursue action in most cases. But the police are quite capable of making someone’s life difficult before it ever gets that far.

I have to admit I’ve flown on a few bases… ive gone in asked permission explained what i wanted to do about 50% of time ive been told no… the others ive been allowed to fly… always worth an ask…worst is they say no…


What about Goonhilly Earth Station? We’re driving down that way later this morning, was thinking of deploying the MM but don’t actually know if I’m allowed to, secondly, the high intensity signals thing sounds fairly worrying. It’s not like I can just pop over the fence if it crashes to the ground

Again, from experience, this is not the case. Where I worked we often had the dregs from Greenham Common camped outside, and they would scale the fences. From their experience in Scotland at a well know nuclear submarine base, where they would first be asked to leave, they wrongly assumed they would receive the same treatment at our base. Instead they were immediately detained by the armed MOD police and handed over to the local police, detained over night and prosecuted in court the following day.


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Protestors would be arrested for breach of the peace, PACE act. If police believe they’re going to cause criminal damage or harm workers then they can arrest them.