In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the body that regulates the operation of drones. The body sets out specific rules and regulations that drone users must adhere to, like ensuring the drone is in sight at all times and not flying the drone above 400 feet.
In the United Kingdom, where drone usage is prevalent, the question arises: Can you shoot down a drone? In this blog post, we delve into the laws around drones to provide a clear and comprehensive answer.
Shooting down a drone, however, falls into a different category of law, revolving around property rights, public endangerment, and firearms regulations.
Can You Shoot Down A Drone In The UK?
In the UK, it is illegal to shoot down a drone, even if it is flying over your property. Shooting down a drone could result in being charged with endangering an aircraft in accordance with section 240 of the Air Navigation Order 2016. The UK has strict regulations regarding the use of firearms, and only police or military personnel have the right to shoot down drones in extreme cases.
It is important to follow the rules and regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) when operating a drone.
If you have concerns about a drone flying over your property, it is recommended to report the issue to the appropriate authorities rather than taking matters into your own hands.
penalty for shooting down a drone UK
In the United Kingdom, it is unlawful to shoot down a drone. According to the Air Navigation Order 2016, drones are categorised as aircraft.
Hence, shooting down a drone can be legally seen as “endangering an aircraft,” which is a serious offence.
Strict regulations also govern the use of firearms in the UK. Typically, only law enforcement or military personnel are authorised to shoot down drones, and that too, under extreme circumstances. For a civilian, shooting a weapon in a public area, even with the intention of shooting down a drone, can lead to charges under the Firearms Act 1968.
If you’re found guilty of endangering an aircraft, the penalties are severe.
As per the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the organisation responsible for overseeing aviation regulations in the UK, the crime carries a prison sentence of up to five years . On top of this, there could be significant financial penalties.
Financial penalties or fines can be quite substantial, although the exact amount can vary depending on the specifics of the case.
While the CAA doesn’t provide an exact range for these fines in relation to drones, it’s safe to assume that they could be significant, particularly considering the potential danger and damage a falling drone could cause.
So, if a drone is causing you concern, the best course of action is to report it to the appropriate authorities. This could be your local law enforcement or the CAA.
Trying to take down the drone yourself is not a legal or safe response.
Do You Own The Airspace Above Your House
In the UK, the idea of airspace ownership isn’t as straightforward as owning the physical land. The law splits the airspace into two segments: the lower stratum and the upper stratum.
The lower stratum is the immediate space above your land up to a reasonable height. As a property owner, you have the right to enjoy and use this space without interference. For example, you have the right to build an extension to your house into this space or to grow tall trees.
The upper stratum, however, is another story. It starts from the point where the lower stratum ends, roughly around 500 to 1,000 feet above the roof space level. This part of the airspace is considered public and is controlled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This is where most aircraft, including drones, are regulated to fly.
Now, let’s talk about drones.
In general, drone operators are expected to respect a property owner’s privacy and not fly too close to residential properties. However, drones are legally permitted to fly from the ground level to 400 feet in altitude. This technically falls within the upper stratum of airspace where property owners do not have exclusive rights.
So, while you have some rights over the immediate airspace above your property, it doesn’t give you complete control to prevent drones from flying in it, especially if they’re flying within the designated 0 to 400 feet altitude.
If you have issues with drones flying over your property, it’s best to follow the legal options discussed earlier: talking to the operator, contacting the local authorities, reporting to the CAA, or seeking legal advice. Shooting down a drone or attempting to physically interfere with its flight could lead to legal consequences, as it is considered unlawful in the UK.
To summarise, while you own some airspace above your property, it does not extend into the higher altitudes where drones are regulated to fly. If you’re dealing with a bothersome drone, always choose legal routes to resolve the issue.
How To Legally Take Down A Drone UK
Let’s delve into the legal alternatives to taking down a drone flying over your property in the UK.
Speak To The Operator
The simplest solution could be to find the drone operator and have a respectful conversation. They might not be aware they are causing any distress. Once informed, they might agree to stop flying over your property or adjust the drone’s altitude to respect your privacy.
Contact the Police On 101
If a drone seems to be flying dangerously or against the UK’s drone laws, you can report it to the local authorities. In non-emergency situations, the police can be contacted in the UK via the non-emergency number, 101. They can investigate and take necessary action if the drone is indeed breaking the law.
Report to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
The CAA is responsible for regulating all aspects of civil aviation in the UK. If you suspect that a drone is breaking the law, you can report the issue to the CAA. They have an online reporting system specifically for drone-related incidents.
Seek Legal Advice
If a drone continually invades your privacy, you might consider getting legal advice. If it’s causing significant disturbance, you might have a case under the laws of “trespass” or “nuisance.” However, this is a complex area of law, so you’d need to speak to a legal expert.
Talk to Your Neighbour
If the drone operator is a neighbour, it could be a matter of having a polite conversation. You can ask them to respect your privacy and suggest other locations for them to fly their drone.
Remember, it is critical to handle these situations through legal channels, rather than resorting to illegal actions such as shooting down a drone. The repercussions for such actions are significant, including possible imprisonment and substantial fines.
Cases Of Drones Being Shot At UK
As we journey through these incidents, we’ll also touch upon the legal repercussions and the ongoing debate around the rights of drone operators versus the rights of those on the ground.
Case of Michael Edwards
In the UK town of Cirencester, a man named Michael Edwards found himself in legal trouble when he attempted to shoot down a drone that was flying over his property. The drone, operated by a real estate agent capturing footage of local properties, became a target for Edwards who brandished a G10 repeater air pistol, fired shots at the drone, and threatened the agent.
He was caught on video, and after a physical tussle, the drone operator was able to disarm Edwards and alert the police. The incident raised questions about the legality of flying drones over private properties and the measures homeowners can take if they feel their privacy is being invaded.
Edwards was subsequently charged with possessing a firearm in public without legal authorization, to which he pleaded guilty. Under a plea agreement, Edwards, being a first-time offender, was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser offense of unlawful possession.
In court, he was sentenced to 12 months of community service and a mandatory curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., enforced with a GPS tag for four months.
Additionally, he was ordered to pay £2,000 ($2,514) for damage to the drone and £1,000 for distress caused to the drone operator.
The case serves as a precedent that shooting at a drone, even over one’s own UK property, can lead to serious legal consequences in jurisdictions where drone flight is considered legal and gun laws are stringent.
Richard Madeley, a well-known television presenter in the United Kingdom, narrates his encounter with an intrusive drone hovering over his private property. Being in the public eye, Richard is no stranger to being photographed at odd times, but this drone crossing the boundaries of his personal space feels like a violation to him.
His initial reaction is to consider shooting down the drone with his .22 air rifle. This reaction can be seen as a natural response to protect one’s privacy.
I thought about fetching my .22 air rifle and shooting down the nasty little intruder. It would have been an easy one-shot snipe, and the robotic carcass would have fallen on to my lawn, but the words “criminal damage” whispered in my ear. Do I own the airspace above my property? Probably not. Did I want to be the party that the police took in to for questioning?Richard Madeley: – ‘The day I took on the drone invading my personal space‘
However, Richard quickly recognises the potential legal implications associated with damaging or destroying a drone, even one that appears to be invading his privacy.
Instead of resorting to this drastic measure, Richard Madeley chose to track down the drone’s operator. When he found the operator, he confronted him, and the incident was eventually reported to the police. The drone operator was “given advice” by the police, a term often used when police officially document an incident and warn an individual about their behaviour.
This incident demonstrates how the existing laws are somewhat inadequate to address concerns about drone-related privacy invasion. It highlights the need for clearer regulations regarding drone usage and an individual’s rights when their privacy is invaded in such a manner. Until the laws are clearer, it’s advisable to take Richard’s approach: document the incident and report it to the authorities, instead of resorting to vigilante action.
UK Fox Hunters Shot At Drone
Campaigners from East Kent Hunt Saboteurs were using a drone to monitor the activities of the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt on the Isle of Sheppey. The footage from the drone shows members of the hunt scattering upon noticing the drone, and subsequently the drone focuses on what the East Kent Sabs group alleged was a group of hunters “digging out a fox”.
However, this activity is abruptly interrupted when the drone’s camera is hit and damaged, causing the live feed to cut out.
Upon retrieving the damaged drone and contacting the police, the activists were able to download and share the disrupted footage.
The police took the incident seriously and responded by arresting a 49-year-old man from Eastchurch on suspicion of criminal damage and possession of a firearm with intent.
This case underscores the legal implications of shooting down a drone in the UK. Despite any privacy concerns or perceived disturbances, it’s essential to remember that unlawfully shooting a drone could lead to charges of criminal damage and potentially other serious offences related to the misuse of firearms.
To sum up, it’s essential to understand that, despite any frustrations or concerns one might have with a drone flying over their property, shooting it down is illegal in the UK. Engaging in such an act could lead to serious legal consequences, including charges related to criminal damage and misuse of firearms.
Property owners do have rights to the airspace above their property, but these rights do not extend into the altitude where drones are regulated to fly, which is up to 400 feet. If one feels their privacy or safety is being infringed upon by a drone, it’s always recommended to take the appropriate legal steps. These could include contacting the drone operator, reporting the incident to the local police, or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The key takeaway is to remember that addressing such issues should be handled legally and responsibly.
As drone technology continues to evolve and become more commonplace, it will be increasingly important for regulations and understanding to evolve as well, in order to maintain a balance between the rights of drone operators and those on the ground.