Drones banned because of Norwich Airport collision fears

Aerial view of Norwich Airport, Oct 2015. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of Norwich Airport, Oct 2015. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

A ban on flying drones will be put in place at a patch of land in Hellesdon for fear of an aerial collision.

The land behind Cottinghams Drive lies directly beneath the flightpath of one of Norwich International Airport's runways, and there are growing fears of an incident involving a plane or helicopter and a drone.

Hellesdon Parish Council chairman Shelagh Gurney said the issue was becoming 'a real problem'.

'We really don't want to encourage people to get on to that land and fly their drones, because it is right under the flight path of Norwich Airport,' she said.

New signs will be put up on the site, advising people not to fly their drones from there.

'The airport are concerned about it because this is at the top of the runway, and at that point they are still quite low,' said Ms Gurney. 'There is also the issue of helicopters taking off which will be even closer to the ground.'

Drones must be kept within the visual line of the pilot, usually about 500m horizontally and 400ft vertically.

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Regulations in force also include a ban on flying the remote-controlled devices over congested areas or within 50m of people or buildings without official permission.

Breaches of these rules can result in the operator being taken to court and fined up to £5,000.

Temp Sgt Pete Clarke, of the Hellesdon and Horsford neighbourhood policing team, said the regulations could be toughened up.

'This is a growing problem which is obviously very dangerous, and these days you can buy these drones for between £20 and £30 from toy shops,' he said.

'As a result they are bringing in more robust laws to deal with the problem, but at the moment they are not as strict as they could be.'

Richard Pace, operations director at Norwich International Airport, issued a warning last year in the wake of a near-miss over Heartsease.

'If there is irresponsible operation of drones then there is the potential to cause a real aviation incident,' he said.

Anyone who wants to fly a drone weighing between 7kg and 20kg within the six nautical mile radius of Norwich airport should call air traffic control on 01603 420643.

Do you have a Hellesdon story? Email dominic.gilbert@archant.co.uk

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