It has recently been announced that along the south coast of England, drones will monitor for migrant boats trying to bring people into the country illegally. The unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will cover a large area of the Channel, from Eastbourne to Margate.
The CAA has said that the flights are for “the purpose of national security and protection of human life”. The Home Office further commented that “it is working to identify the most effective ways to tackle small boat crossings”.
More than 1,700 people have crossed the Channel since the government declared a ‘major incident’ on 28th December 2018.
Due to this exercise, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has put in a temporary “Danger Area” over the English Channel at the Home Office’s request. This is because the drones will be operating beyond visual line of sight and have no detect and avoid capabilities – according to a report by the CAA.
The airspace restrictions came into force on 2nd December and last until 31st March next year. The CAA has said that aircraft can only enter the “temporary danger areas”, which can be put in place with less than 24 hours’ notice, after being cleared by air traffic control. They are limited to 1,200ft above sea level and will not affect commercial passenger planes, the CAA said.
The Home Office has said that the government was working with “partner agencies” to make use of available assets”.
Former immigration minister Caroline Nokes told Parliament in June of this year:
“The UK had recently delivered drones and other surveillance equipment to France, enabling their law enforcement officers to intercept and disrupt attempted crossings”.
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