Private land permission

Today I went to a farmer to ask permission to fly in his field. He told me the field didn’t belong to him but was owned by a tenant farmer “who wouldn’t give a shit” if I flew in the field. He gave me the phone number of the farmer but he has not answered his phone or returned a polite text message I sent him. What would you do?

I would go on the land. If in Scotland, you have a right to roam anyway, so long as you don’t damage crops. Elsewhere in the UK, you could be guilty of trespass, but that mainly means you need to leave the land immediately when asked to do so by the landowner, so not a huge deal in this case. Unless you cause damage or are abusive, it’s not a criminal offense and the police can’t intervene.


Thanks so much. I’m good to go then.

Obvious disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, rely on professional advice, yada yada yada :grinning:


So, where exactly are we talking about?.
That may give a clue to what our advice may be?.

Marchwood. It’s a field on the corner of Tavells Lane and Bury Road. Out of the national park but within the high risk zone of the Southampton airport?

You’re fine, there. Outside Southampton FRZ … which is the important one.

1 Like

I would take off from the footpath near the roundabout, opposite the skate park.
Just make sure its a public path.
I would just check to make you are not in a NFZ


It’s clear of DJI’s NFZs there (not that he’s flying a DJI drone) … just need to keep away from the military zone to the south.

Flown in that area several times.


If he has your contact details and hasnt bothered to contact you to say No then youre good to go, he could still turn up when youre in the field and object but you did try to make contact with him, which would make him look foolish i would have thought.

Happy flying

1 Like

I’m always a bit confused when anyone mentions trespass laws. I’ve no idea where anyone gets the idea of trespass from. As far as I’m aware the law of trespass does not exist except for against Royalty and possibly Government land, ie, MOD property. For us normal mortals it is a, civil matter is trespass. I’m understood that if you are on anyone’s land, they can politely request you to leave, and if you comply then that’s the end of the matter, if you don’t leave, it is a, civil matter of which the police don’t have power over. Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

That’s the theory we work on at work @Brian, i.e it’s only trespass if you ask someone to leave and they don’t. Trying to get the police involved is a tricky one, however the public order act (1986) works quite well if the ‘trespasser’ is causing you alarm, distress or harassment, then the police (may) attend.

That’s the problem, the law of trespass doesn’t exist unless it is in relation to Royal, Government or Railway property, so a police officer who arrives can’t charge anyone trespass, an offence that doesnt exist for the ordinary individual. I presume that’s the reason why they have to resort to public order offence.

There’s a confusion here between “the law” and the “criminal law”. There are multiple types of law: statute law, common law, contract law, tort law etc.

Trespass can be a criminal offense in several circumstances e.g. under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (causing damage; abusive behaviour; multiple vehicles present - this is aimed mainly at traveller encampments) or the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (protected Royal, government, nuclear and high-security sites). I hope that’s not an issue for most recreational drone pilots.

Trespass is also a civil tort, and you are trespassing as soon as you step onto private land without permission. It does not become a civil tort only once someone asks you to leave. However, the landowner’s main recourse against you is to ask you to leave; and they can use reasonable force to try and eject you. If that fails, they can seek a court order, and the police can assist if a trespasser continues to breach a court order.

All the above applies for English and Welsh law; Scotland is quite different; not sure about Northern Ireland.

This link is helpful:

1 Like

Damn right! :wink:


I presume then that’s why land downers put signs up warning against trespassing on private land. Presumably there is no one around to advise someone they are trespassing and thus committing a common or tort law offence, so the sign does the same job of advising the trespasser thus the offence has then been committed (if the sign has been seen). Interesting thread. Thanks for your input.

1 Like