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Drones in the United Kingdom (UK)

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A drone that cost a county council £36,000 has never been used...

West Sussex County Council became one of the first local authorities in the UK to buy a drone, in February 2018. Despite intending to use the drone to "help save lives", current UK law states that you need permission from the Civil Aviation Authority if you want to fly a drone within 150m of a congested area or within 50m of people or properties.

Announcing the purchase, the council said it would be used by members of the fire and rescue service’s Technical Rescue Unit who could “scout out locations, such as heath fires”.

In a 2018 press release they said: “There is also wide scope for use of the drone across wider council activities including surveying buildings, for example to check roofing, bridge inspections and potentially for use in other community work.”

But the UAV has yet to be flown in an official capacity. The council purchased the drone £20,850 and confirmed that it had spent £12,353 on training 15 staff - one of whom has since retired - and £2,753 on insurance.

The drone's future is now being reviewed, the council said. The disclosure comes after Labour councillor Michael Jones submitted a written question to the council.

A council spokesman said: "We acknowledge there has been a delay in using the drone. We have faced a number of difficulties, mainly around licensing, and as a result we are reviewing its future use."


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