‘Get drones out of our airspace’

EX-MET CHIEF SAYS PRO­HI­BI­TION IS THE ONLY WAY TO AVERT DIS­AS­TER AT AIR­PORTS

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by ALEXAN­DER BALLINGER alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @amb­hack

A FOR­MER Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner says drones should be barred from en­ter­ing con­trolled airspace around ma­jor air­ports such as Heathrow and Gatwick.

In­de­pen­dent cross­bencher Lord Stevens of Kirk­whelp­ing­ton told the House of Lords on Tues- - day (Fe­bru­ary 28) there was an an­swer to the prob­lem of near-misses with com­mer­cial air­craft at the ma­jor air­ports.

Dur­ing ques­tion time, he said no­body could go into con­trolled airspace with­outut au­thor­ity and added: “Surely rely a quick an­swer is to pro­hibit any drones in that area.”

Lord Stevens, who is pres­i­dent of the Air­craft Own­ers and Pilots As­so­ci­a­tion UK and holds a pi­lot’s li­cence, said he had flown him­self “safely down” to Lon­don ear­lier that day. Trans­port minister Lord Ah­mad of Wim­ble­don said the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity had a “spe­cific regime” around the com­mer­cial oper­a­tion of drones. As peers pushed for greater con­trols on drones, he added:”We are look­ing at those par­tic­u­lar reg­u­la­tions to see how they may be ex­tended.” Last year, Viren­dra Sharma, the MP for Eal­ingEal and Southall, called on the home sec­re­tary Am­berAm Rudd to help im­proveim the safety of the de­vicesd to pre­vent near miss­esm and po­ten­tial risk to lives. Ac­cord­ing to the UK Air­prox­Air Board, there were 70 nearn misses in­volv­ing drones across the coun­try in 2016, up from just 29 in 2015. The gov­ern­ment is cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise on drone reg­u­la­tion and Lord Ah­mad said cross­gov­ern­ment work had achieved progress in a num­ber of ar­eas. Th­ese in­cluded tri­als to ex­plore op­tions for de­tect­ing and coun­ter­ing drones and an ex­panded cam­paign to raise aware­ness of safety rules.

Tory Lord Naseby said the threat of ter­ror­ism and the mis­use of drones had “height­ened” over the past year and called for strict laws that con­sumers could un­der­stand.

In­de­pen­dent cross­bencher Lord Hyl­ton called for “to­tal ex­clu­sion zones” for drones around flight paths at ma­jor air­ports to pre­vent a col­li­sion.

Lord Ah­mad said the gov­ern­ment was look­ing at the is­sues of ge­ofenc­ing around crit­i­cal sites such as air­ports.

“There were 70 re­ported in­ci­dents in 2016 and those are 70 too many,” he said.

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