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Flying over National Trust sites
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Mike_in_Letcomb
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Good evening everyone;

I have tried getting some definitive answers from the National Trust about the use of UAVs / Drones on National Trust properties here in the UK. I'm not talking about flying these into a stately home or Buckingham Palace but using them for aerial photography (of a non-commercial nature) at some of the beautiful sites that are managed by the NT.

The short answer is 'No'. The longer answer, from Graham Clowes, the 'Head of Operational Risk' at their Swindon office, is as follows:

Why we don’t allow drones to fly at NT sites
·         The use of drones is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and it is a developing area which is coming under greater scrutiny. Few non-commercial users have the correct training or permission to operate drones, which creates a serious risk to our staff, volunteers, visitors, property and wildlife. We have therefore adopted a strict blanket policy banning the use of drones at our sites.
·         The use of aerial vehicles is also prohibited by the Trust “byelaws”. The byelaws reflect the charitable core purposes of the Trust to enable us to preserve special places for the nation.
·         Should a drone cause damage or harm, pilots generally do not have the correct insurances to compensate the Trust for remedial actions.
·         Drones should not be flown over people; as much of our land is open access we cannot guarantee an area, even if remote, is completely empty.
·         Drones should not flown near property; the special nature of our properties makes the risk of damage more severe.
·         Some sites may have wildlife or agricultural animals which could be effected by the presence of drones.
·         Many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and potentially could contravene NT rules on photography and filming.
·         The presence of drones can be detrimental to the enjoyment of our sites by other visitors.
We therefore do not allow drone flying from or over NT land. The only exception being contractors or staff who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have specific insurances and have been commissioned or authorised by the Trust for a specific purpose – and in these cases the activity is strictly controlled.
The regulatory environment regarding drones is rapidly developing. We will continue to monitor this development and keep our position under constant review.  

I suppose with all the bad publicity surrounding Drones, plus the almost comical misconceptions about what we are all trying to do, the banning of Drones such as the Phantom is going to become more common. There are laws that protect us but even these are woefully known by those in 'authority' or the Police themselves, who basically see UAVs / Drones as a threat. The fact that we have HD cameras means they can often quote 'data protection' laws which are ludicrous - why not ban everyone having a camera in the UK (World?) who may inadvertantly capture a passer by?

Thoughts and comments would be most welcome - I enjoy flying my Phantom 2 Vision + all over the place and obviously obey the 'law' on where / when to fly and the rules governing 'safe flight'. I am also a member of the BMFA and therefore have 3rd party insurance however I fear we could be heading towards much tighter regulation or even an outright ban.


2015-4-9
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adrianjacobs
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I don't believe the nt have the right to ban drones flying over their land, same as they can't stop British airways flying over there land.  What they can do though is to stop you from going onto their land to control a drone.  The landowner doesn't own the airspace above it.  I think.
2015-4-9
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johnwarr
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Instead of trying to find ways round the NT's wishes, why not for the good of the hobby just accept them and keep everyone happy ?
Speaking as a long time NT member.
2015-4-9
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adrianjacobs
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So tell us where we can fly?  Not over parks, not over farms, not over forests, towns or congested areas, not over beaches,  so where?  Lakes and the sea.

And the national trust are renowned for taking over land, charging for previously free car parks, and restricting public access to those car parks and land.  You can tell I'm not their friend.
2015-4-9
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adrianjacobs
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Also worth noting the first line of the nt's answer "The use of drones is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority" and yet they  don't seem to accept that those regulations are sufficient.
2015-4-9
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Swerve
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I understand where the NT is coming from. I am an NT member and the thought of 3 or 4 drones buzzing around whilst visiting one of their properties is not a good one. The problem is if they allow one they have to allow all. They do say that commercial use, sanctioned by them, to someone with the necessary CAA clearance and appropriate insurance, would be OK so I suspect we'll be seeing some pretty good videos of various NT properties in the not too distant future and they'll probably be for sale alongside the brochures.
I don't see how they could stop you flying over their land provided you follow the CAA regulations relating to people and buildings.
Mike - thanks for posting the info above. We are off to Ickworth shortly, but won't be taking the Phantom unfortunately.
2015-4-13
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Matt-and-Riley
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I just found this info on one of their web sites about the Norfolk Coast and seem to imply they own the whole of the coast line. Not sure what they mean by 'byelaws', can they just make up so called Laws? Obviously taking off or landing from their property is under their control but really not sure about flying over it if you are within the CAA guidelines.

I've seen no end of people taking pictures of crowds and people at these sites, some with massive zoom lenses, so the data protection point is rubbish really. Understand the bird issue, especially at nesting or breeding times but I guess most people don't want to fly near birds and risk their uav.

I guess you will never get permission, because if they give permission then they have a legal problem if anything happens.

I was looking forward to doing a tour of Norfolk castles this weekend and getting some nice footage. The problem is the more 'they' restrict me to a point where I can't fly anywhere the more I think sod it and I'll do what I want where I want. You can only push people around to a point and then they start to push back. After all it's 'our' country, not some corporate entity pretending to be a charity paying massive salaries to it's bosses.

So do I go for it or sit at home in front of the TV. I know where 'they' want me to be.
Just found this handy map, although appears to be rather incomplete...
http://www.ntlandmap.org.uk/
2016-4-22
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Matt-and-Riley
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On a similar topic this week I have sent around 30 emails to various locations around the area asking for non-commerical permission to fly over or near their property or land, purely out of courtesy and respect. I've not had a single reply. I may add a note to the email saying 'Unless you expressly deny this request I will assume permission has been granted'
2016-4-22
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Matt-and-Riley
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And what about English Heritage http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Just realised castles are 'owned' by EH not NT. Can't find anything on their web site about flying around them. Anyone have any info on this?
2016-4-22
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Mad_Angler1
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They don't own air space do as long as you took off from a public none NT owned land and followed the CAA regulations there is nothing they can do to stop you.
2016-4-22
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Matt-and-Riley
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Good!

However I just found the problem with the CAA stuff. Must be 150m (492 feet) from a building, max height you can fly 400ft. So technically you couldn't fly over?
2016-4-22
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pi-inthesky
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Matt-and-Riley Posted at 2016-4-23 01:17
Good!

However I just found the problem with the CAA stuff. Must be 150m (492 feet) from a building, ...

And dont forget VLOS 500mtrs.English heritage conditions are the same.
2016-4-22
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pi-inthesky
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Matt-and-Riley Posted at 2016-4-23 01:17
Good!

However I just found the problem with the CAA stuff. Must be 150m (492 feet) from a building, ...

Its within 50 mtrs  of vessel vehicle or structure or persons outside of your control.And 150 mtrs over or within congested areas and 150 mtrs over or within organised open air public assemblies.
2016-4-22
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Mad_Angler1
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Yes 50m, as I said they can't stop you flying overhead as long as all of the CAA rules are met and you take off not on their land.
2016-4-22
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Matt-and-Riley
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Great, getting my 50 and 150 rules mixed up. That makes more sense, Ill pretend I didnt see the Eh comment and will be out for some fun
2016-4-22
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Homer Simpson
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So long story short, don't fly ur drones period. In ur back yard lift off the ground and land, flight over, pack up and have a beer. Wow, this hobby is getting really restricted.
2016-4-23
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Homer Simpson
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I have been a RC pilot for over 25 years, and have never had issues. I have flown here in Canada as well as the States. I am a member of MAAC, and now we are to register each "Drone" (RC aircraft) with the US FAA in order to fly and be tracked. Next we will need a flight plan, then ATC clearance.  I am already registered here in Canada and hold a $2mil insurance and certificate to fly from Transport Canada. I have to produce flight plans for the inspector if he/she ever shows up. I have to request with TC in advance to do commercial flights, and usually takes a minimum 3 months to get permission.
2016-4-23
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malvern
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Swerve Posted at 2015-4-13 10:09
I understand where the NT is coming from. I am an NT member and the thought of 3 or 4 drones buzzing ...

What about microlights, planes, gliders,  sky divers, para gliders, helicopters, kites, etc..........

Why is it only hobby drones that are targeted ?

What the hell did we do wrong ?

In fact think of all the publicity they are losing by stopping amateur aviators film their wonderful land.

All that will happen is that the law abiding aviators will stay away, and the rest will take no notice.
2016-4-23
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thechilloutsess
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malvern Posted at 2016-4-23 19:24
What about microlights, planes, gliders,  sky divers, para gliders, helicopters, kites, etc....... ...

Hi,

Before I read this I got a response from EH...

Thanks for getting in touch, Drone flying is becoming increasingly popular and we're receiving a high number of enquiries from individuals wishing to fly them at our sites. When making decisions on this, we've to take into account the rules set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), our duty of care to the safety of our visitors and staff, as well as the protection of the sometimes vulnerable historic properties in our care. We take our responsibilities very seriously and so, after careful consideration, we've made the decision that we can’t permit this activity at any of our sites. Whilst I understand that this may be disappointing news, I do hope that you understand our reasons why. As this technology develops, we hope to be able to develop a portfolio of professionally filmed, aerial footage of our historic sites, which we can share with visitors, either when they visit or through our website, so that they can further enjoy these spectacular places. Kind regards

.... So again it seems it's a 'no' but I guess they can't stop you from launching outside and over still same as NT ?

Thanks
Bob
2016-8-7
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Cetaman
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Matt-and-Riley Posted at 2016-4-22 06:22
On a similar topic this week I have sent around 30 emails to various locations around the area askin ...

Aloha Matt-and-Riley,

     That is the way to do it.  If they do not respond in a reasonable time, then screw them!

Aloha and Drone On!
2016-8-7
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Aardvark
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Mad_Angler1 Posted at 2016-4-22 18:08
They don't own air space do as long as you took off from a public none NT owned land and followed th ...

Following CAA regulations , if you have an 'observer' with you then you can fly to 1000 feet, airspace regulations permitting of course. Have a read of the BMA guidelines Here
2016-8-12
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derek
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Aardvark Posted at 2016-8-12 22:06
Following CAA regulations , if you have an 'observer' with you then you can fly to 1000 feet, airsp ...

First  time here and a bit of a long one. I have been doing a project for about the last 3 years on various sites in my area and up until last weekend have had no problems. On Sunday went to a Hill Fort late as there would be no one around, had a good flight then someone appears and wanders over. He said that he was a volunteer for the National Trust who own the land and that I should not fly on the site. After a talk and being told I should know the bylaws I pointed out that the bylaws should be posted and the ones that were do not cover RC aircraft, I should have looked before I went to the site, sorry not in the Handbook, I should have looked online, sorry no internet (little lie). At this point it was getting dark so it was time to make an exit. So onto the Internet that I don't have to find out the regulations, so no flying over National Trust land, English Heritage sites/ land and after looking into it even Dartmoor National Park and maybe others.
So can we fly over their land if we take off from outside, well a quick look on the net we find
AIRSPACE
The common law distinguishes between two different types of airspace. The lower and Upper stratum.
The lower stratum is concerned with the portion immediately above the land and interference with this air space would effect the landowner’s reasonable enjoyment of the land and the structures upon it.

The Higher Stratum is something which exists above the height which is reasonably acceptable and necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the land by it’s owner. The landowner has no greater rights to this airspace than any other member of the public.
S. 76 Civil Aviation Act 1982  states that ‘the lower stratum is unlikely to extend beyond an altitude of much more than 500 or 1,000 feet above roof level, this being roughly the minimum permissible distance for normal overflying by any aircraft’ (Rules of the Air Regulations 2007, Sch 1, s. 3(5)).
So as we can fly to 400 feet this means that you can't fly over their properties, but this also raises another conundrum.
Lets say you see a crop circle and get permission from the landowner to film or take photos of said circle, now the landowner asks you to take some photos of his historic farmhouse and he will pay you £20 for them. Under CAA rules we can't charge unless we have passed a course, but the landowner owns the airspace you will be working in so therefore he has the say in what takes place on his land up to 500 feet, if you go beyond that then you will have to abide by CAA rules as this airspace is controlled by them. As it stand it's like owning a house but a government body has control over who can come into your garden to film or take photos, the way I read it is as long as you have the landowners permission then you could fly and do what you want as long as you don't go above 500 feet and enter CAA airspace when their rules would apply. Sorry this has been a bit long but this really needs looking into by someone with legal training so we know our rights in the future.
2016-8-19
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Matt-and-Riley
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derek@choghole. Posted at 2016-8-19 18:12
First  time here and a bit of a long one. I have been doing a project for about the last 3 years o ...

I think your Civil Aviation Act is about 30 years out of date - latest is 2012 ?

Although I find lots of quotes of S.76 I can't actually find it even in the 1982 document, no talk of stratums anywhere. An internet myth created by land owners?

You can't take off from their land but you can fly over, although they could class lots of it as 'congested areas' , substantially used for recreation.
CAA rules apply to all airspace from ground up
2016-8-19
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sharplkei
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Matt-and-Riley Posted at 2016-8-19 21:23
I think your Civil Aviation Act is about 30 years out of date - latest is 2012 ?

Although I fin ...

A very interesting point, reading it as written it does define by combining the wording of different rule areas into a sound argument. There are so many grey areas concerning these rules and different ways of interpreting them add to that which side of the fence you are stood (flyer, land owner, governing body) and confusion reigns. I keep watching this space (as they say) with interest!


This relates to Dereks point.
2016-8-19
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gcoops
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Annoyingly even if you can find a friendly landowner bordering NT Land from where to take off, to keep within CAA REGULATIONS you can fly no further than 500m which considering the size of some of the NT Land isn't very far at all. It also means huge areas of the UK are no fly zones.
2016-9-23
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Kwaka Pants
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All just typical of the uk. Control everything, don't allow anything, and what is allowed stop it as soon as possible. Have the same problem with riding my trail bike, trying to stop all that too because a minority don't like it. Should move to Australia...
2016-9-23
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talk2t_c
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If I want to take some photos or film, I just go and do a quick visit to assess the best approach, position, conditions etc.  If OK - go for it there and then, if not - come back another day.  Do it and don't hang around.  Worked so far.
2016-9-25
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jdelgadoesteban
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The National Trust policy on this is criminalising, old fashioned and plain inaccurate, I am happy to join a group of pilots to take on this. I could do a deconstruction of their ludicrous list point by point. The irony is that people interested in the environment like myself find it nearly impossible to fly over spaces that should be commons in Norfolk as it's mostly controlled by the Trust, Holkham State etc.
2017-1-14
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jdelgadoesteban
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The National Trust policy on this is criminalising, old fashioned and plain inaccurate, I am happy to join a group of pilots to take on this. I could do a deconstruction of their ludicrous list point by point. The irony is that people interested in the environment like myself find it nearly impossible to fly over spaces that should be commons in Norfolk as it's mostly controlled by the Trust, Holkham State etc.
2017-1-14
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jdelgadoesteban
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The National Trust policy on this is criminalising, old fashioned and plain inaccurate, I am happy to join a group of pilots to take on this. I could do a deconstruction of their ludicrous list point by point. The irony is that people interested in the environment like myself find it nearly impossible to fly over spaces that should be commons in Norfolk as it's mostly controlled by the Trust, Holkham State etc.
2017-1-14
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Nigel_
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jdelgadoesteban Posted at 2017-1-14 10:59
The National Trust policy on this is criminalising, old fashioned and plain inaccurate, I am happy to join a group of pilots to take on this. I could do a deconstruction of their ludicrous list point by point. The irony is that people interested in the environment like myself find it nearly impossible to fly over spaces that should be commons in Norfolk as it's mostly controlled by the Trust, Holkham State etc.


Just read the National Trust Byelaws and failed to see anything about flying!

It bans me from climbing over any gate, might get into trouble for building a sandcastle, can't let the dog go for a run, can't train the dog to walk on a lead, can't leave the car in the car park while watching the sun set (bicycle is OK) - I think I have done all those on NT land in the past, but I don't see anything on flying...

Just follow the Drone Code, if they choose to take you to court the penalty is:

"Penalties for Infringement of Byelaws
26. Every person who shall offend against any, of the foregoing Byelaws shall be
liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20 and in the case of a
continuing offence to a further fine not exceeding £2 for each day during which the
offence continues, or such other maximum as may be specified from time to time by
any Act of Parliament enacted after the date hereof."

And once you have paid the initial £20, it is then just £2 per day - not bad value!
2017-1-14
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jdelgadoesteban
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Nigel_ Posted at 2017-1-14 12:40
Just read the National Trust Byelaws and failed to see anything about flying!

It bans me from climbing over any gate, might get into trouble for building a sandcastle, can't let the dog go for a run, can't train the dog to walk on a lead, can't leave the car in the car park while watching the sun set (bicycle is OK) - I think I have done all those on NT land in the past, but I don't see anything on flying...

Nigel_

Have a look: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk ... rones-at-our-places

I am going to open a change.org campaign to make sure there is some form of dialogue between this dinosaur organisation and the people it should be theoretically serving, us.
2017-1-15
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birdingbilly
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Whilst I might not like it the NT, like any land owner, are perfectly within their rights to restrict what members of the public can and cannot do on their land and you are never going to change that, nor would you get support from members of the NT to change their rules - there are way more controversial issues that the NT has to deal with like Fox Hunting for example - and I would think that drones are almost universally hated by NT members.

All that said so long as you comply with the CAA regs the NT cannot stop you from flying over their land as by and large it is not restricted airspace.
2017-1-15
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birdingbilly
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AlecW Posted at 2017-1-14 12:16
I made an unplanned move to the USA from the UK 25 years ago.  Have no compelling interest to go back other than weddings and funerals, it's way too restrictive there.  Beer quality finally caught up in the US which helped ;)

at least we can fly in National Parks !
2017-1-15
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jdelgadoesteban
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birdingbilly Posted at 2017-1-15 03:35
Whilst I might not like it the NT, like any land owner, are perfectly within their rights to restrict what members of the public can and cannot do on their land and you are never going to change that, nor would you get support from members of the NT to change their rules - there are way more controversial issues that the NT has to deal with like Fox Hunting for example - and I would think that drones are almost universally hated by NT members.

All that said so long as you comply with the CAA regs the NT cannot stop you from flying over their land as by and large it is not restricted airspace.

Nigel_ I do agree with you but change can happen, yes the Trust is riddled with controversy, bullying behaviour when buying land etc etc.

Responsible pilots, however, must be able to at least have the chance to apply for usage moreover when a lot of their land covers coastal areas and their shores that by law belong to the Crown.
2017-1-15
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Nigel_
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Sorry, but that does not give the byelaw that prevents us flying.  Legally the NT can create their own laws, which they have done, but when I read the actual byelaws I was surprised not to see anything on flying, not sure model aeroplanes existed back when they were written!

What you linked to is a list of rules and reasons, it is not law and they can't take you to court over those rules, only over their byelaws.

They could update their byelaws to cover drones, but that would require approval from government and I doubt they would get approval for a general drone ban over all their land, certainly not if it was based on the page that you linked to.

Doesn't mean that you shouldn't obey their rules, and most of them are appropriate for use around their houses, gardens, farmyards etc.  Not so appropriate for empty beaches where they would not be a safety issue, noise nuisance or any more unexpected than a kite.  Given that they own many beaches a general drone ban seems unreasonable and the CAA rules/Drone Code seems perfectly adequate.
2017-1-15
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Nigel_
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birdingbilly Posted at 2017-1-15 03:35
...I would think that drones are almost universally hated by NT members.

All that said so long as you comply with the CAA regs the NT cannot stop you from flying over their land as by and large it is not restricted airspace.


Actually, I think most NT members are people who enjoy the countryside, including using it for various hobbies including photography, building sandcastles, flying kites etc. and I think most of them would approve of people using it for Drones as long as the CAA Drone Code is followed and the drones are flown responsibly.   Most of them seem far more interested and accepting of drones than the average population.

I am an NT member, as is most of my family and a lot of family friends, and I can't think of any of
them that would want either kites or drones banned from beaches, except maybe during the bird nesting season when & where loose dogs and often people are also banned.

However I do know that taking on top levels of the NT organisation is unlikely to get you anywhere unless you have decades of time available!
2017-1-15
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birdingbilly
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Nigel_ Posted at 2017-1-15 05:35
Actually, I think most NT members are people who enjoy the countryside, including using it for various hobbies including photography, building sandcastles, flying kites etc. and I think most of them would approve of people using it for Drones as long as the CAA Drone Code is followed and the drones are flown responsibly.   Most of them seem far more interested and accepting of drones than the average population.

I am an NT member, as is most of my family and a lot of family friends, and I can't think of any of

I would like to think you are correct about NT members but I suspect NT members are no different from the wider UK population who in large majority see drones as a noisy, potentially dangerous nuisance.  I know from my own experience flying the UK you get some people (usually younger people) that are interested and what to learn more about what you are doing but sadly I have also come up against quite a bit of hostility.  The problem with an organisation like the NT is that they are always likely to have a one rule fits all policy, so whilst flying at say Holkham beach might appear harmless that is unlikely to be the case at Felbrigg Hall etc.  
2017-1-15
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jdelgadoesteban
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birdingbilly Posted at 2017-1-15 05:59
I would like to think you are correct about NT members but I suspect NT members are no different from the wider UK population who in large majority see drones as a noisy, potentially dangerous nuisance.  I know from my own experience flying the UK you get some people (usually younger people) that are interested and what to learn more about what you are doing but sadly I have also come up against quite a bit of hostility.  The problem with an organisation like the NT is that they are always likely to have a one rule fits all policy, so whilst flying at say Holkham beach might appear harmless that is unlikely to be the case at Felbrigg Hall etc.

@Nigel_ @birddingbilly I agree with you both. If you have read the white paper commissioned by the CAA on drone perceptions it shows how the view of drones varies very much according to the age group, younger than 50 find them cool, modern etc, over 50 find them dangerous, noisy and so on:

http://dronesafe.uk/resources/

So if we take into account the NT members are from a certain demographic group we can then guess a certain overall opinion.

Also is worth taking into account that the Trustees sometimes do not seem to represent the Trust members at large.

By no means, this is an anti-NT member comment (I am also one, as another 4 million people), the other way around, it's an open venue to try to offer some form of dialogue and education at their very authoritarian and ill-informed stance.
2017-1-15
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tiscali
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'The presence of drones can impinge on the quiet enjoyment of our sites by other visitors and therefore potentially presents a public nuisance risk. '

You should try going to Stowe Gardens and listen to the perpetual drone of helicopters flying low going to and from Silverstone. Drones are, of course, different.
2017-1-15
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