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Planning enforcement - Trial use of aerial drones

A six month trial is currently underway during which the council's planning enforcement team will use remote controlled aerial drones to investigate possible breaches of planning regulations and permissions.

During a six month trial period starting in September 2020, aerial drones will be supplied and operated by a specialist team from Thurrock Council who will carry out aerial drone flights, on behalf of Basildon Council's own planning enforcement team, for the purpose of investigating possible breaches of planning regulations and permissions.

Evaluation and public consultation on the use of aerial drones

An evaluation and public consultation on the use of aerial drones for planning enforcement purposes will also take place during the trial period. The findings from this will be taken into consideration before any decision is made to extend the trial period or to invest in the long-term use of aerial drones.

How aerial drones can help with planning enforcement

The use of aerial drones will help us to investigate possible breaches of planning regulations and permissions at sites that would otherwise be difficult to access on the ground.

Drone safety and the privacy of the general public

Strict controls are in place to protect the safety and privacy of borough residents.

All drone flights are risk assessed and follow strict operations and manual procedures, which have been approved as safe by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Thurrock Council who will supply aerial drone services during the trial period,  use qualified unmanned aerial systems and competent remote pilots (RP) to fly drones.

Each RP has passed theory and practical assessments with an organisation approved by the CAA.

The RP has overall responsibility for making sure every flight takes place within the law and its amendments.

The RP and a team of airspace observers will make sure that all drone recordings are stored securely.

Any recording that is not relevant to the purpose of the flight will be securely destroyed.

The Information Commissioner's Office is the regulatory authority for Data Protection matters.

A Data Protection Impact Assessment is in place which sets rules for how the UAS, RP and airspace observer crew must work.

Protecting and ensuring the safety of other flying craft

The Thurrock Council drone team ,who will supply aerial drone services during the trial period, has a Permission for Commercial Operations issued by the CAA.

All drone flights are conducted in accordance to a detailed Operations Manual, which includes strict safety procedures that are followed at all times, including:

  • pre-flight site visits
  • weather checks
  • risk assessments
  • having support staff and airspace observers on the ground

Drones will not be flown more than 121 metres (400 feet) above ground level. Manned aircraft are not permitted to fly below 500 feet, except during take-off and landing. Strict rules apply to the use of Drones near airfields.

Further information and enquiries

For further information and enquiries please contact the council's Planning Enforcement Team. See contact details below.