Clarification of (new) law with regards to Sub 250g drone use.

I promise you, I’ve endeavored to pursue all my homework regarding becoming familiar with the requirements and implications of the new drone laws that came into being on the 30th July 2018 but, despite pouring over all the legislation’s small print, (and reading scores of journalistic, blogged and forum related musings), I have yet to recognise an answer to a question I have been pondering these last few weeks.

Hidden in plain sight?

Sure. I understand all the laws relating to my weighty 1280g DJI camera platform but can some of you please comment on or clarify the new law with regards to mini or micro drones in the sub 250g category?

I acknowledge that a sub 250g drone will not need to be registered though, obviously, it would not be allowed to exceed 120m, height-wise; or venture near an airport, prison or power station.

My question(s) relate to less clearly defined situations that I’ve yet to see addressed or commented upon due to the sub 250g part of the legislation being bulldozed or dismissed as an aside less worthy of comment when compared to “real” drone issues being discussed.

So please help me understand …

Does the law state that lightweight , sub 250g,“toy drones” need to maintain a 50m (or 150m), distance from people and property in just the same way a heavier, (soon to need registering), drone has to?

And …

… IF a sub 250g toy drone with a camera DID have to comply with “proximity” laws, would a similar sub 250g toy drone, WITHOUT a camera, have to do so also?

In plain English … (the essence of my question)

“Can a sub 250g “toy” drone be flown in a garden, near buildings and people without requiring the area being under the CONTROL of the drone pilot?”

I don’t need the ‘control’ aspect addressed – unless you, as a contributor, wished to highlight or clarify such an aspect for other readers of this thread.

Aside from my main DJI camera platform, I’ve recently purchased a little Hubsan 502E which, quite impressively, includes a GPS unit, (allowing fixed altitude hover and RTH features), to complement its quite acceptable 720p camera. (I plan to use it as a scout, to help me prep, gain telemetry info or set up later video / photo shots with my DJI platform).

Depending how the law views my little 147g Hubsan drone will depend how and where I can fly it.

Hence the questions outlined above. :slight_smile:

You can fly your >250g Drone in your Garden however i would be careful with the Video Signal.
Normally Drones are not allowed to fly in an area where people live (probably your Garden) if they are able to record or transmit Video or Audio signal.

If your <250g Drone is capable of a specific speed it isnt a toy anymore…
(Ive read it somewhere but cant remember where :roll_eyes:)

If i find the article i will edit my post.
(Try to check if your Drone is a “Toy”)

You are not allowed to fly a Drone near a building if it has a camera on it

Hi Luca,

Your reply appeared reassuring … to start with!

But …

A >250g drone, (like my >£50 Hubsan) may have a camera so does that change things?

Put another way

We, kind of, accept that normal <250g heavier drones are being legislated, partly, because of the privacy issue.

Does this camera / privacy thing ensnare the sub 250g drones also?

This is the reason for my original post.

I’d like to learn about all the idiosyncrasies or exceptions we might reasonably be expected to know about!

So is it a YES, I can fly my sub 250g Hubsan in my garden without requiring anyone’s permission. (Or breaking the law?)

OR is it a YES, I can fly my sub 250g Hubsan in my garden without requiring anyone’s permission, (or breaking the law), IF I render the cameras inoperable?

Or is it a YES, providing I follow one of the above AND fly below a certain speed?

I’m writing this with a smile … not meaning to sound pedantic!!!

BTW. Thank you for the additional link.

I’d, previously, absorbed the subtle differences that FPV made to how we might interpret the new laws, (including things like having a responsible observer when working / racing at greater distances), but hadn’t ever contemplated any speed related angles … though that link didn’t seem to mention specific speeds … unless I missed a reference somewhere.

-You can fly in your Garden if it is you Garden and if there is nobody that doesnt want you to fly there. (Neighbours that dont like the Sound or are visible on Video)

-You definetly can fly in your garden if the Camera doesnt work.

I didnt find the one with the Speed Limit :frowning: So just ignore that :slight_smile:

But seriously… Its YOUR Garden… Do whatever you want :smiley:


Thanks for the additional links. :slight_smile:

The third one was particularly interesting becasue it is the very first time I have seen reference to the ‘toy’ drone situation.

Indoor use
**The regulations make no distinction between flights made indoors or in the open; the whole safety criteria continue to apply. Notwithstanding this, certain hazard factors are heavily mitigated by the fact that the aircraft is flying in an enclosed environment and access to the venue can be controlled. People within the building, and who may be exposed to a hazard by the flight, should meet the criteria for ‘persons under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft’ or else have safety precautions taken on their account (e.g. safety netting, tethered drone, etc). **

Minor indoor recreational use of a very small and light ‘toy’ drones is not generally regarded as having the same safety implications as for larger drones used outdoors.

Nevertheless, even these paragraphs read as a tad ambiguous, by not specifically stating that sub 250g drones should be treated exactly as any larger drone.

I’ve written it here in this post so you know exactly what I am thinking / stating YET, throughout every link and every word written within the code or law, I am not actually feeling as if things are being spelled out clearly enough!

It seems incredulous to me that this new law can simply scoop up all the millions of micro / mini drones from every toyshop in the UK and dictate that none of them?? could be flown in a child’s, (or owner’s), back garden?

So let me press you again, Luca :slight_smile:

Are you really sure I can fly a sub 250g drone free of legislation, free of fussing about the laws bigger drones have to comply with?

Or are even these little toys illegal to fly … unless control (and permission), of all parties within a 50M, (or 150M), range is granted for me to control such a flight?

Sorry. Didn’t see your latest post until I’d already posted mine!

Please keep in mind :
The DNUTS next to my Name isnt a guarantee that everything i say is true.
It is always possible that i make a mistake or tell you something that isnt up to date.

Especially when it comes to Questions about the law, please be very careful and double check every information that you get from me and every other Person :slight_smile: .

If you have any other Drone related Questions, please let us know

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Thanks Luca,

Lets wait to learn what other folk have to say about this subject.

I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of things!

Thank you for your valued contributions so far. :slight_smile:

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Yes. I did wonder what the DNUTS moniker meant.

I merge my 3D printing pursuits, my lifesize humanoid, DIY robot project and my passionate drone pursuing hobbies all together by mashing up said technologies so I can understand the attraction of you being in your DNUTS group.


I’ve been and done the Safer Drones course.

They didn’t cover the sub 250g drones and there use.
It was mainly aimed at DJI type camera drones and they focused on the what you can’t do.

But you can send them an email and ask.

At the moment they are more aimed at educating people rather than flat out arresting people (unless you doing something really stupid).

Just be safe and you should be OK, after all its your garden and your property but
Your be flying within 50m of buildings that aren’t under your control.
Your be flying within 150m of a built up residental area.
If you capture video footage of your neighbors that could be invasion of privacy as they are in there garden.

But then it is a sub 250g so it is a very much grey area like with most of this hobby.
The camera footage isn’t considered invasive if you can’t identify the person or people cause of low camera quality or distance from them.

Thanks for the additional information, Doomed … and the advice and link re Devon and Cornwall Police.

I’m fortunate to live in an area where myself and each of my immediate neighbours have gardens longer than 60 metres each and all of them are either good friends or customers of mine so I’m certainly in a position to feel comfy and confident that I could, if needed, gain official permission, (CONTROL OF) an area if that were really necessary.

Within that larger footprint, my own garden has a, quite secluded, “walled garden” aspect to it meaning that I could fly a sub 250g drone up to a height of 20ft + before my North based neighbours would even see it visually. (My South based neighbours having already OK’d me ‘having control’ of their real estate).

I’m guessing, with that fact clearly made, it might be agreed, (or suggested), that issues of privacy, (relating to others), would not even qualify!

A scenario fine for me to experiment with sub 250g Hubsan style drones while testing 3d printed brackets or DIY mini gimbals, etc, but, as you concur, there is, at present, still some grey area regarding sub 250g drone use.

Thanks for the contribution. :slight_smile:

Isn’t considered invasive

Your comment regarding camera footage quality is interesting.

For example; my next door neighbour would love me to film his garden, particularly at the house end of his property where he has spent the last year or two adding an extension and re-laying ancient flagstones.

Presumably, the Hubsan 502E’s 720p horizontal camera, (OR a separately attached q12 micro cube cam positioned to look directly down), would threaten minimal risk of invading a persons privacy based on the low quality images such devices produce. Low quality, nevertheless, still being impressive when used to record architectural images or video footage!

You have permission. So you should fine.
You could do a fly through.

Ha ha :sunglasses:

I could!

And guess what? One of the neighbours is a toy shop … already selling drones, big and small … although when I popped in there ten minutes ago, (to try to quiz the staff on their own official understanding of the new drone laws), I was informed that “the lad who knew all the answers” had handed his notice in a week prior!

Am using my last comment as a ‘device’ … to encourage thread topic to be explored / developed fully … IF … an inference is picked up on! :face_with_monocle:

Sorry. That last comment was, perhaps, a little bit too obscure …

I was, merely, hoping someone might pick up on the “toyshop” reference to quiz me as to whether I was living in a town? (A built up area?).

I live in the centre of Bridport, a quaint and idiosyncratic market town here on the South West coast of West Dorset.

My little cottage lies just off the main high street, almost hidden, 50 paces down a 17th century enclosed passageway, itself a little work of art often photographed by passing tourists who seem to like the way the dark, worn flagstones lie juxtaposed against the snapshot of my sunlit garden beyond, teeming with colourful flowers.

Beyond the passageway lies my 150ft walled garden, a little gem of paradise one might not, normally, expect to experience in the centre of any established town.

Arguably, dwellings wise, my town centre is inhabited with less humans than we might find on any regular housing estate or medium sized hamlet, due to the very nature of the layout. (Mostly ground floor shops with only intermittent flats or 2nd story dwellings above).

So let me add that factor into the mix and ask … “What might qualify as a built up area?”

The part of the new law that refers to observing caution when considering flying near “gatherings of 1000 people at a time”, again, probably doesn’t apply in my case … though I’d love to be able to garner facts, (of law), that would support or dispute my unqualified observations.

I’m getting the feeling that many of the circumstances or dictates outlined in the new drone law might prove as difficult to enforce as herding a garden full of kittens so would welcome any additional thoughts regarding the policing of drone use enforcement in general.

Back to the sub 250g drone issue; a little white drone angel sitting on my left shoulder is attempting to sooth me by whispering, “Just apply some good old common sense and you’ll be fine” while a little red drone devil on my right shoulder is hissing threateningly, (is that even a word?), suggesting that, perhaps, ALL drones, sub 250g or otherwise, should be banished to clear open spaces entirely.


Just fly smart and use common sense.

Bridport… I’m sure I’ve been through there.

I cannot see anything that appears to allow one to fly in a garden per se, ignoring the 150m/50m rules, if there is a camera on board. From the ANO 2018 amendments: ‘… In this article, “a small unmanned surveillance aircraft” means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition …’ so even if it is only for FPV, you would probably have a hard time proving it could not be for surveillance / recorded. As far as I can see, all the 250g limit means is that above that, from 11/2019, registration / test will be needed.

In reality, if probably depends if your neighbours are likely to make a fuss.

Whats the consensus on this:

I run a transport company with a large warehouse next to a major airport. What is the ruling on whether I am allowed to use my 3 inch fpv drone inside the warehouse on a weekend? technically I am within the boundaries of the no fly zone but that does that count indoor or just outside?. If I am within the boundaries of the building and the shutters are down does that mean I am now legal to fly or not??

Your indoors with the doors down and the quad can’t escape.

I would fly… but that’s just me