Official Response from Chris Grayling MP to Drone Safe Register
More than six weeks on from the incident that saw thousands of travellers stranded at Gatwick airport following reports of a drone, there have been no further developments in terms of catching the person or persons responsible. In fact, factual information on the events as they occurred is still very hard to come by with speculation and hearsay quite naturally filling the void.
Drone Safe Register were pressed for comment at the time of the incident and we declined as we felt (and still feel) that there was not enough information for us to make an informed response. However that does not mean that we did not take any action on the issue. Drone Safe Register, Director of Communications, was in contact with a number of interested parties to represent the DSR viewpoint on the state of the current and proposed legislation and we offered support to our members on the best routes to take in order to make their voices heard through appropriate channels.
Today has seen the official response to Drone Safe Register from Rt Hon Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport.
In it, he clearly states that the Government ‘understands the importance of supporting emerging technologies such as drones, to maximise the potential benefits we can gain from them’. This is a familiar Government standpoint that Baroness Sugg also raised in her previous correspondence with us with the recent PWC report that detailed the potential income that UAVs could bring to the UK economy no doubt reinforcing this view. Of course, he also states that any drone activity must be carried out ‘ensuring safe, secure and compliant operations and building trust in the technology.’ This is something that all licensed commercial operators (and most hobbyist looking to safely and legally enjoy flying in their leisure time) would surely support.
However, what was encouraging to us here at DSR headquarters, was to see that the ‘legislation that the Government has already introduced and that which we plan for the future, is not designed to target commercial drone users.’ He goes on to detail the increased restriction zones that will apply around airports and the fact that the Government is ‘developing a range of options to mitigate and respond to drone incidents’ as no legislation will ever deter someone that is bent on using a UAV to cause deliberate disruption.
Counter drone measures are a relatively new area for the security services in the UK and Grayling states that the Home Office are ‘expediting detailed policy work to develop an appropriate means of achieving the establishment of a legal framework for the testing and evaluation’ thereof. Once this is completed, it is hoped that it will provide a method of taking measures against individuals and organisations who seek to use drones irresponsibly without stifling the growth of this nascent industry.
We are glad to see that Drone Safe Register have been recognised as champions of safe and legal use and of the drone registration process. After a degree of public condemnation of drone technology as a whole – an understandable but often ill informed response to the heartbreak of those who were trying to travel over the Christmas period – we are also grateful that the voice of professional drone operators is now starting to be heard and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to secure a place for safe and legal drone pilots as the industry grows.