A boom in the sale of drones in the run up to Christmas has heightened calls for stricter privacy rules to protect private land and homes from snooping.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) claims that regulation has not kept pace with the growing popularity of the technology and cited additional safety concerns about drones being flown too close to airports.
Dorothy Fairburn, the CLA’s regional director, said: “The use of drones both commercially and for recreation is growing fast. The potential for a wide range of industries, not least agriculture, is tremendously exciting, but we do need regulation to keep pace.
“The growth in the availability of drones with high resolution cameras for leisure use, rather than industry, presents a significant risk to privacy and requires action. We need reassurance that drones being flown over private property or land are being done so legally, professionally and safely. We must also address the potential for damage to property and injury to livestock.”
The Government is consulting on new drone safety rules which propose measures such as mandatory registration of new drones weighing more than 250g, a theory test for users, higher penalties for misuse and new criminal offences to deter misbehaviour.
Miss Fairburn added: “We will respond to the UK government consultation putting forward workable proposals for drone regulation. We want to see proper guidance on what individuals can expect from privacy and drone use in relation to both residential properties and privately owned land.”
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) also wants better protection from drones for farmers.
Guy Smith, the NFU’s vice-president said: “Drone use on farm is multi-dimensional and we will communicate the advantages this can have for farmers – from gathering data to recording images of their farm.
“However, we are also very aware of instances of irresponsible use of drones by members of the public and have already seen the first instances of sheep worrying by drones. Therefore, we are calling for Government to address this and are hopeful that any new legislation will introduce measures to protect farmers and landowners.”