Government considers ban on drones for children
Children could be banned from owning drones weighing 250g or more under a government crackdown over safety concerns.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering introducing the age restriction following increasing concerns over the use of drones by private citizens.
Many small drones are lighter than 250 grams, but children would be stopped from owning heavier versions which can fly further and cause more damage.
A consultation on the new plans is being launched today, part of a wider programme of new drone legislation, and will shape the content of a draft Drones Bill due to be published later this year.
In May, the government introduced new regulations governing the use of drones including a mandatory requirement to register all devices weighing at least 250g with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The new rules came in following a number of near misses between drones and aircraft that saw a tripling in incidents in the last two years.
Under the new child restrictions, children would only be able to fly the heavier devices if they were owned and registered by an adult.
Other measures being considered include giving police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £300 for misuse and the ability to seize drones being used irresponsibly.
The DfT is also considering using of new technology to protect public events, critical national infrastructure and prisons from drone disruption.
DfT-funded research found that a drone weighing 400g could smash a helicopter windscreen, while one weighing 2kg could critically damage an airliner’s windscreen.
Last year, an investigation revealed that police are being flooded with reports about drones after a dramatic surge in incidents registered by forces, including rows between neighbours, prison smuggling, burglary ‘scoping’ exercises and snooping fears.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “Drones present exciting benefits to our society and our economy, but with a small group of people choosing to use them for harm there are challenges we must overcome if we are to prevent them hindering the potential of this technology.
“That’s why we’ve already introduced safety measures like a height limit and rules around airports and today we are consulting on how we go further, including extra police powers and a minimum age requirement.”
From Monday, new rules will be introduced banning drones from flying above 122m and within one kilometre of airport boundaries.
Anyone breaching these restrictions will face penalties of up to £2,500 and could also be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft, which has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.