The Use Of Drones In Local Government

According to research by the Telegraph, more than twenty councils have been granted approval by the Civil Aviation Authority to use drones for commercial purposes. Councils can utilise the technology for a range of enforcement activities; including inspecting poor roofing work by rogue traders, flying over open land looking for live stock carcasses or inspecting sites in relation to breaches of planning controls.

These are just a few examples of how drones can help councils and other public bodies to ‘work smarter’, make more efficient use of resources and enhance health and safety. There are clearly many benefits, the main advantage being how cost-effective drones can be. In many sectors, being able to fly a drone above hard-to-get installations or large areas of land is massively cheaper than employing small aircraft. Furthermore, drones are incredibly agile, and the latest technology means that they can provide rich, detailed visual information.

Drones are already used across the country to investigate fly-tipping. North Yorkshire Council recently spent almost £2,000 on an aircraft, which is to be licensed by the CAA.

Matt O’Neill Assistant Director of Growth, Planning and Trading Standards at North Yorkshire County Council, comments:

“Like many councils, we use advances in technology to help us to work smarter. It’s a useful addition to the tools available to the county council, enabling us to make more efficient use of our limited resources and to enhance health and safety”.

“It could also include inspecting sites in relation to breaches of minerals and waste planning controls, for example, illegal disposal of waste such as building materials on farmland; compliance with boundary limits for extraction in quarrying or restoration of landfill requirements like planting trees in the right locations”.

This is just another fantastic example of the way in which drones are being utilised to improve the environment, however we believe that policies need to be introduced to cover issues of privacy which are rigorously followed in an open and straight forward way. This will develop public acceptance of the operations and allow for significant development moving forward.