New powers allowing police to more promptly and effectively combat illegal drone usage, such as that which blighted Gatwick airport last month, have been unveiled by the government.
The move comes in the wake of the disruption at Gatwick shortly before Christmas, where flights were suspended for more than 36 hours following reports of drone activity over the airfield.
Following a consultation, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced the new measures on Monday (January 7), which include extending existing exclusion zones around airports.
Police will be given additional powers to land, seize and search drones, while the government will expand the use of technology to detect and repel drones from sensitive sites like airports and prisons.
And from November, drone operators will be required by law to register drones in excess of 250 grams with the CAA and take an online safety test.
Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said the recent disruption at Gatwick, which affected “tens of thousands of passengers” in the run up to Christmas, was a “stark example” of why further action was necessary to ensure drones are used safely and securely.
Last year, the government made it illegal to fly a drone above 400ft or within one kilometre of an airport.
This exclusion zone has been extended to a 5km wide by 1km long zone at each end of the runway, and to the boundaries of the “current aerodrome traffic zone around airports”.
The government will also pursue new counter-drone technology and look at extending geo-fencing capabilities to prevent drones being flown into sensitive airspace.
Police, meanwhile, will be able to issue fixed-penalty notices of up to £100 for minor drone offences, such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone.