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Drones and property - legal question?

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Established Member
17 May 2011
A bloke is fed up of drones flying above and around his property; but they are outside the distance limits (just).

It's his kid's birthday so to celebrate he buys several helium-filled party balloons and flies them, tethered, 100m above his house from his extensive garden (so the 50m rather than 150m flying rule applies - congested area and all that).
A drone flying at legal height runs into the cable causing it to crashes onto his property, and a second drone clips a telephone mast on his land and crashes.

The drone owners sue the land owner for damages to their drones....the land owner counter sues for damages to his balloons and mast.

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2 Apr 2015
In the UK permission is required from the CAA to fly tethered gas balloons at heights of more than 60m, within an aerodrome traffic zone or within notified airspace. The householder would have committed a criminal offence so his damages claim would probably be thrown out


25 Feb 2016
I'm a commercially licenced drone operator, otherwise known as a PFAW holder in official parlance (PFCO as of the new legislation!!)

What OneOffDave said if the house is located inside an ATZ (max 2.5 nautical miles around the aerodrome. Not all aerodromes have an ATZ.

Said 'fed up bloke' would be wise to put up & shut up about the drone flying. There is no ownership of airspace above his property in the UK & so long as distance & other limits respected, whether commercial operation or hobbyist with a UAV these will vary, then the drone operator is legally entitled to do what he/she is doing.

However, the scenario is beyond that so here goes

The operator of the aircraft has a valid & pretty watertight case to bring against 'fed up of RailUK' for endangering the safety of an aircraft criminally & for damage to the UAV civilly. I have often said to people that if anyone were to seriously mess with any of our commercial operators then I wouldn't hesitate to prosecute criminally & sue civilly.

Landowner MAY have a case under Article 138 of the old Air Navigation Order (that article number will have just changed!) - basically says a person in control of an aircraft must not use that to recklessly or negligently endanger people or property or words to that effect. It would be for the landowner to prove negligence. Difficult to do as tethered balloons the tethers are hard to spot - more likely to spot them if operating commercially.

Landowners case for the price of the balloons would likely be laughed out of court as vexatious with the right person defending. The value would be so low as to be pretty easy to convince the court that the counterclaim is without merit.

That's the balloons scenario. Now, phone mast. Neither the hobbiest or the commercial operator, unless the latter is working for the mast operator or owner under their PFAW/PFCO should be anywhere near it! Mast owner has recourse under the ANO & Civil Damages to their property, ditto the landowner for any separate damage to his property.

.....aaaand breathe.


Established Member
21 Dec 2007
Newcastle (unless I'm out)
. . .

Said 'fed up bloke' would be wise to put up & shut up about the drone flying.

. . . .
I wouldn't be so hasty. "Nuisance", with its many forms in law, would be the most obvious area to explore, and I'd feel confident that Nuisance as a Tort would be well worth exploring, if I've understood Howardh's imaginary scenario.

But on a quick consideration, the two counter claims for damages seem doomed.


16 Jul 2013
Good practice for clay pigeon shooters. If one landed in my garden I would destruction test it with a sledgehammer.
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