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Drones in Horsham District

A drone is almost anything that flies and does not have a pilot. The technical terms often used to describe drones include ‘Remotely Piloted Air System’ (RPAS) or ‘Unmanned Aircraft (or Air) System’ (UAS).

Legally, model aircraft are considered drones. The laws below apply to drones that weigh between 250g and 20kg.

Drones cannot be used on any public spaces in Horsham District.

The information on this page summarises key points from the government's Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2019 and the Civil Aviation Authority advice.

What is the law around drones?

Drones must not be flown:

  • more than 400 feet above the ground,
  • within the flight restriction zone of an airport,
  • within 50 metres of a person, vehicle or building which is not under the pilot’s control, or
  • within 150 metres of or inside of a congested area.

The definition of a congested area is any area which is substantially used for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational purposes. This means drones cannot be used on any public spaces in Horsham District.

Rules when using drones

When flown in permitted areas, drones must:

  • be labelled with the relevant operator ID.
  • Not cause anything, including animals or other items to be dropped. Even if the item or animal has a parachute.
  • The pilot must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the drone so they can ensure it doesn’t collide with anything or anyone. This means it must be in the line-of-sight of the pilot at all times rather than them viewing via an on-board camera or other technology.

Drones with cameras

If the drone is fitted with a camera, there are a number of additional rules. Permission must also be obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly these.

  • It is up to the pilot to ensure any images obtained do not break privacy law.
  • It is the pilot’s responsibility to fly safely and within the law, if not they could be prosecuted.

If the drone weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply.

The Government have introduced on-the-spot fines for any drone users caught breaching the rules. A breach of this law faces a fine of up to £2500 or up to five years in prison.

Drones near airports

Drones present a hazard to aviation and are subject to the law through the Air Navigation Order.

  • It is illegal to fly a drone near an airport/airfield or close to an aircraft.
  • It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of aircraft in flight.

Report misuse of a drone

The Police are responsible for taking enforcement action and have agreed, with a signed memorandum of understanding with the CAA, that they will take the lead in dealing with drone misuse and other legalities.

If you have any concerns about a drone being used in your area, either from a safety or privacy perspective, call the Police on 101.

Register to fly a drone

In the UK there is no such thing as a ‘drone licence'. However, all users must have two registrations in place before they can fly a drone which weighs between 250g – 20kg. This could be considered similar to a ‘drone license’.

  • The person that’s responsible for the drone must register to get an operator ID.
  • Anyone who will fly the drone must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID.

A drone operator has legal accountability for the safe ‘management’ of their drones. This includes when someone else is flying it.

Owners of drones may want to insure them or make sure appropriate insurance cover is held.

Find out more and register on the CAA website