Trust sites on Northumberland coast are now a no-go zone for drones

An aerial view of Holy Island by Ian Cook.
An aerial view of Holy Island by Ian Cook.

The National Trust has set out in detail the reasons behind its ‘strict blanket policy banning the use of drones at its sites’ on the Northumberland coast.

The use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or drones as they are more commonly known, is not permitted on or over National Trust (NT) land as part of the charity’s byelaws, without the necessary required qualifications and a licence granted by the Trust.

In an online statement entitled Use of drones on the Northumberland Coast, Nick Lewis, house steward at Lindisfarne Castle, said: ‘We are experiencing increasing issues with drones on our sites on the Northumberland coast and we expect this to continue as the technology becomes more available.’

He continues by listing the reasons why the ‘strict blanket policy’ has been adopted, which include:

‘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 be flown near property; the special nature of our properties makes the risk of damage more severe.

‘The Northumberland coast is an important area for wildlife and is covered by many national and international conservation designations. Much of the wildlife use our sites for breeding and are sensitive to disturbance and some species are given additional protection that can result in prosecution if photographed in certain situations. Many birds see drones as a threat and may abandon nests.

‘Many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and potentially could contravene National Trust rules on photography and filming.

‘The presence of drones can be detrimental to the enjoyment of our sites by other visitors.’

The only exception for flying drones over NT land is for contractors or staff who satisfy stringent Civil Aviation Authority 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.