Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Drones and motorcycles on nature areas: threat, harm and risk

Jet ant
Threat, harm, and risk, three words echoing through my mind since Sunday's outing to Tolworth Court Farm. It was a splendid day, and eventually, I found the ancient oak tree with its processing jet ants. However, I felt exhausted after three hours of engine noise from the direction of  Great Hollands field -the one closest to Jubilee Way car park- made worse by the fact that I was in Great Meadow field -its polar opposite. Eventually the noise found me, as young motorcyclists - looking more like they should be on a beach- began tearing up and down the newly mown pathways, outstripping the noise of the drones being flown.

Attilla is allowed
Drones are not allowed
 No-one has landowner permission to fly drones on Tolworth Court Farm. I know this, as I checked with a council officer who said, 'no-one has permission to fly drones on Tolworth Court Farm'.  In fact, despite being named Atilla, the only vehicles allowed on TCF are the grasscutters.

Motorcycles not allowed
 After three hours of noise and 25 degrees of sun, it was becoming difficult to ignore the fracas and so I rang 101. The police robot said, 'we are experiencing high call volumes due to a number of emergencies. If your calling about anti-social behaviour please hold the line, otherwise go to our website.' So I hung up and decided to engage myself with the four endearing young men who warned me to mind my own business or I could be facing a Crocodile Dundee situation.

As I left the nature reserve, there could have been a knight in shining armour moment, with the timely arrival of the Surrey Police  at the County boundary. I thought the police had arrived due to an earlier call-out from three young men attempting a rescue of two badly injured cockerels abandoned earlier; probably, it was thought, after being used for cockfighting. But it wasn't to be, as the anti-social behaviour that I was attempting to report to the navel of the police officer, turned out to be  just fine, as it hadn't put me at Threat, Harm or Risk. In addition, there was no CCTV (as the video on my phone didn't count) and the independent witness who had joined our delightful  debate, wasn't on my side anyway, as it is much more fun to be five onto one.

So, even though nature is everything, it gives us all we need (food, water, air, soil) it is the basis of our economy (food, commodities, minerals etc.) keeps us sane (beauty and healing space) we cannot report its abuse, unless we have been under threat, harm or risk. Furthermore there can be no investigation, unless there is independent CCTV footage and the corroborative evidence of a witness.

The council will be erecting sign boards stating that motorcycles are not allowed on TCF. In the meantime you are a very naughty boy x 4.
There are two sets of regulations which apply to the use of drones in the UK, whether they are being used for commercial or recreational purposes:
The UK’s aviation regulations which are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
The UK’s data protection regulations are enforced by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

You can find details about the requirements to fly a drone commercially from the CAA at

For more information about drone and data protection, visit the ICO’s website at

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