Life is full of ironies, but obviously some are richer than others, particularly it seems when it comes to illegal aerial photography. We were recently asked to re-photograph a property for sale as the previous photographer’s attempts were deemed to be unsatisfactory and as always one of the first actions was to assess the feasibility of carrying out aerial photography. The risk assessment showed that the street and pavement at the front of the property were too crowded, with continuous vehicle and pedestrian traffic and numerous hazards like overhead wires and trees for safe and easy shooting, but the back garden was fine. All that was required was a quick chat with the neighbours to make sure they were aware and happy and we would be good to go.
Imagine our surprise, then, when in the middle of photographing the interior, someone heard a drone buzzing past the windows! Further investigation unearthed a ‘man with a drone’ who had apparently been commissioned by the property agents to take some aerial photos and had simply driven up and launched his Phantom from across the street without further ado.
A quick friendly chat ascertained that he had no licence, no insurance, no understanding of the local wifi, traffic or pedestrian hazards and generally no idea what he was doing. Having recommended that he urgently review his professional approach and get qualified before he gets locked up, we left him to it.
Illegal aerial photography
Unfortunately we have all become aware that there are a number of irresponsible individuals out there who think of drones as fun toys to buzz around in the the local park or across neighbours’ gardens, but it was a serious wake-up call to encounter a situation where a professional organisation (the agents) were breaking the law by commissioning illegal aerial photography and presumably risking all manner of liabilities if something had gone wrong. Presumably the agents were/are ignorant of the legal position regarding the flying of UAVs in the UK, so for the record, here is the potted beda:photo version:
• It is illegal to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for any form of financial gain in the UK without a specific permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued only to operators who have been fully trained and passed the necessary exams.
• In order to obtain any kind of related public or professional liability insurance you have to be a CAA approved operator. Insurance companies will not touch hobbyists with a barge pole, so if you employ someone who is not licensed you may well find yourself footing any future bills if something goes wrong, as well as putting yourself on the wrong side of the law.
• Only licensed operators are allowed to fly in built up areas, a crowded street such as described above is strictly off limits to hobbyists.
• It is illegal to fly over property without the landowner’s permission, or fly within 50m of any building or people you don’t control.
beda:photo are obviously fully licensed operators and also registered with www.dronesaferegister.org, a national database of legal qualified and approved commercial drone operators. We thoroughly recommend sticking to legal operators, you are far more likely to be satisfied with the results and fully safeguarded from liability if something goes wrong.