Farmers who use drones must be aware of their responsibilities or risk being subject to legal action.
Farmers are finding drones increasingly useful, as are many others from several commercial sectors as they are now able to gather types of data which were previously unattainable and save valuable time in the agricultural cycle.
Not only can farmers react to the growing season more efficiently but they can take instant remedial measures in the event of a crisis. Other agricultural uses may include the application of water or fertilisers, mapping fields and monitoring crop health.
However, farmers, land managers and users of drones generally should be aware of the regulations which accompany their use. For instance, a priority in the use of a commercial drone – defined within the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) regulations (CAP722) as being any drone undertaking aerial work for which there is valuable consideration – is ensuring it is registered with the CAA.
Furthermore, they can’t be flown within 50 metres of third parties or third-party property; they must never fly above 400 metres; and they must always remain within direct vision of the user.
Drones under 20kg don’t need to be registered with the CAA if they are used for purely recreational purposes, but this is something of a grey area at present which is likely to see tighter regulation very soon.
In the UK the insurance requirement for drones is covered by the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations 2005 and Mandatory Insurance Requirements. These set out a minimum level of insurance which the users of drones are required to take out.
The insurance covers available are limited at the moment but, again, that seems likely to change. Consideration should be given to public liability, personal accident for employees, legal cover in respect of breach of privacy and material damage on the drone itself.
The recommended level of indemnity is £5 million but brokers can advise on this and indeed on any other aspect of their use.