Wild Life & Countryside Act (1981)


Just read this after someone posted a picture, on local facebook, taken flying over a Nature Reserve. I personally wouldn’t but someone replied that, and I quote, "**This place is a Nature Reserve and strictly forbids drone flights in and around their lands. Airports and Nature Reserves are the only places that by law can dictate how their airspace is used. With a Nature reserve even if you don’t take off/land, they can prohibit you flying over their airspace through the Wild Life and Countryside Act, **
Open for discussion!


Well, round here at least “The Broads Authority” recognise that “The Broads” are an area that you can fly.


Perhaps other Local authorities need to get their heads out of their proverbial and do likewise.

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Chris, This person is stating that Airports and Nature Reserves can dictate who can fly over them. I was always under the impression that it was only the CAA that could dictate no fly zones.
I think the Broads are slightly different in that they are more holiday destinations and not a nature reserve for birds etc.


That is where most people are under the impression that The Broads are just a Holiday destination, when, in fact a lot of it is a Nature & Bird reserve with 100’s of acres of open land around our area.
Yes, we have areas that are NT & EH, but again they cannot stop you taking off from Public land and over flying their land.
They can get a bit itchy if you directly overfly buildings, etc, but nothing stopping you from doing a “Point Of Interest” at distance.
If it does not show as a NFZ, then it’s good to fly, as that is within “The Drone Code” stipulation !.
I have flown extensively around here over the last 4 years, if it’s good to fly, I do !.
Shoot me down Guys ,if I am wrong !.


Some sensible statements on “The Broads Authority” page.
and, remember “The Broads” IS “A National Park” !!.
So, why does this not apply to “The Lake District”, “Yorkshire Dales”, etc, etc, etc !!


Open season!!:wink::wink:


The only way the WCA (Wild Life and Countryside Act) could limit the use of drones is the provision that makes it an offence to “disturb” schedule 1 birds (birds of a protected nature).

There is nothing that stops you flying your drone over a nature reserve, but you should be mindful you’re not disturbing the birds. That is a highly subjective thing to prove at anyrate! If you were buzzing 6ft above a nest of a rare species, sure you’re disturbing a bird, but 400ft above some waders etc? Much tougher to prove and never been tested in court with a drone user to my knowledge!


You would have to check for each reserve but It is true that some Nature reserves with wild birds have aircraft restriction areas (not just drones but any aircraft) from ground to a set height, normally to 500 feet. They can be for named months or for all year round.

This is also international, not just uk. I have not looked deeper to see if this is cautionary or if pilots can be prosecuted for breaching. I expect in most cases is would be initially a CAA admonishment.

For aircraft it’s also about avoiding birdstrikes. The problem is these are only shown on Aviation maps so is unlikely that a hobby drone pilot would be aware unless there were warnings as such.


The Forestry Commision likes to make it’s own laws. The New Forest has a complete ban on UAVs, which I think is way beyond their remit. They do not own the airspace, and allow other flights over the forest every day.


This seems to give a pretty comprehensive list of can & can’ts ?

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