UK government questioned over drones

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On 1 December, the UK government’s parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport is answering questions that will form part of a UK parliamentary report into the civil use of drones that will be published in three months time, in March next year. 

The UK Civil Aviation Agency is overseen by the Department. The report is being produced by the UK’s second chamber, the House of Lords, and its European Union (EU) sub-committee on the EU’s internal market, infrastructure and employment. The under secretary is the member of parliament for the constituency of Scarborough and Whitby, Robert Goodwill. He is a Conservative party member of parliament. 

Goodwill will be asked by the committee, does the Government plan to consult with the public on drone use and guidelines and if so, when; will the Government distinguish between commercial users and hobby users; should drones be regulated according to their size or their potential risk to the public; is the current law around misuse of drones working properly; how does the Government monitor its own contractors’ use of drones; should regulation around privacy and data protection stay within the jurisdiction of each EU member state?

The committee hearing will have messages on the social media website Twitter sent out with the hashtag #HLRPAS. The committee accepted written evidence until September and it has been studying the European Commission’s work on civil use of drones. Announcing the investigation into the issue of commercial drones in August, the committee chairman Baroness O’Cathain said: “In the UK alone the number of permissions granted for civilian use of drones in congested areas went up 40 fold between 2006 and 2013.”

Beyond parliament, there are various companies developing cargo drones. In the UK there is 4X4 Aviation which has a scale-model prototype it has test flown. A European project called Cargomap concluded this year that a  drone for short haul freight was feasible.

A survey of freight forwarders in July and August by the UK’s National Aeronautic Centre found that a third of respondents expected cargo drones by 2030. 

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