If it’s owned by Hillingdon, you can’t do that
Heathrow Airport’s local council has effectively prohibited the flying of drones anywhere within the borough’s public spaces – including parks near airfields.
The London Borough of Hillingdon, over on the western edge of the capital, has – through a combination of local bylaws and a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) – made it all but impossible to fly a drone from council-owned land.
The borough contains both Heathrow Airport at its southern end and RAF Northolt, which is used for a mixture of military and private business jet flights.
Public spaces in the borough, according to a resident who contacted The Register, include signs prohibiting the use of “unmanned aircraft”. The borough also has a PSPO covering all of its parks, open spaces and roads.
Under the heading “Conditions in the Order which are prohibitions”, it states: “In the restricted areas a person commits an offence if without reasonable excuse he or she continues to carry out activities from which they are prohibited namely… using remote controlled model vehicles and aircraft that is likely to cause nuisance from noise or cause harassment, alarm or distress to another person without the express consent of the council.”
The order can be found on the council’s website, under the heading “Parks and Public Places PSPO”.
As every commercially available drone on the market today uses motorised rotors or propellers to fly, this means they make a noise when they fly – and thus fall within the council ban. The use of the word “likely” in the PSPO means that you don’t even have to cause annoyance to an actual person. If a council busybody thinks your drone might be able to annoy someone with its buzzing, he is legally empowered to take it from you.
A Hillingdon resident told us that areas such as Ruislip Lido, a popular lake, also had signs up prohibiting the flying of drones.
There have been numerous airprox reports in the past few years about drones buzzing airliners flying to and from Heathrow. The southwestern end of the borough includes open fields immediately adjacent to the airport’s perimeter road and its two runways.
Hillingdon Council’s press office acknowledged our request for a comment but failed to respond. ®