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Drone debate forces shake-up in Silchester

Parish council's concerns at increase in number of machines over common

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Drone debate forces shake-up in Silchester

A SHAKE-UP of Silchester Common by-laws is in the pipeline to tackle the increasing use of drones after parish councillors raised safety concerns.

The topic of the use of drones on the common was debated at length at a recent Silchester Parish Council meeting, chaired by vice-chairman, Simon Mahaffrey.

Mr Mahaffrey said the village by-laws relating to Silchester Common were clearly out of date with regard to the use of drones on the common, as they had been written prior to the existence of drones, essentially unmanned aircraft.

He said: “When the [Silchester] by-laws were written they applied to petrol-driven aircraft to distinguish them from gliders.”

Parish councillor John Harrison said the parish council should be concerned with the safety of individuals out walking on the common:

“If they [drones] got out of control they could kill someone,” said Mr Harrison.

Mr Mahaffrey pointed out current regulations relating to drones stipulate they should not be flown within 150m of a congested area, or within 50m of a person, vessel or structure not under control of the pilot.

The drone must also remain in sight and not be flown above 400m in altitude or 500m horizontally.

Anyone flying a drone for commercial purposes would need prior permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr Mahaffrey said there was no clause in the council’s insurance to cover drones, while Mr Harrison added that anyone flying a drone and challenged was likely to say they did not have third party insurance to do so.

It was agreed that Mr Mahaffrey should re-draft the parish council’s by-laws to encompass the use of drones prior to its February meeting.

Drones can be obtained from high street shops for less than £100 and more than 300 public bodies currently have permission to fly a drone in the UK.

In November last year a Worcester toddler suffered serious eye injuries in an accident in which a neighbour lost control of a drone, which clipped a tree and crashed in the family’s property.

In the interim, until the May local elections, Mr Mahaffrey has stepped into the shoes of former parish council chairman, Steve Spillane, who stood down from the role last month and for personal reasons, while remaining a parish councillor.

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