Using Drones

Drone use is an increasingly popular pastime for tourists in the Outer Hebrides – the stunning islands seen from above are understandably a sought after view for photographers and visitors.

It is important to abide by laws and regulations in order to keep people and animals safe and to allow our residents to go about their everyday lives and visitors to enjoy our quiet, unspoilt coastlines while avoiding disruption of wildlife.

Therefore, please adhere to the guidelines set out by the law and by safe drone use advice. We have included some of this advice for your information.

However, we hold no responsibility for the advice given here and you should always check with the appropriate regulatory bodies before using such equipment. 

A summary of requirements are:

Recreational drone use:

  • Use drones safely
  • Do not allow the dropping of items from the drone
  • Keep your drone within your visual range (unaided by monitors etc)
  • Fly your drone no higher than 120m
  • Keep at least 50m from people and structures and at least 150m from crowds or built up areas (including overflying)
  • Keep away from any airports and flight paths

Commercial drone use:

  • See above list for best practice,  plus:
  • Contact the Civil Aviation Authority before using your drone in a particular location
  • You will require a commercial drone permit
  • Gain permission from the landowner to use your drone

If filming or photographing from your drone:

  • Gain permission from the landowner
  • If people are present, gain their permission for filming in line with privacy law (avoid the filming of people if you have not gained their permission for use of their image)

West Harris advice

Wildlife:

Although not mentioned in many safe drone use checklists, it has been found that wildlife can be easily disturbed by drone use. Therefore we would urge caution around seal and bird colonies, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. We advise a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to wildlife by maximising the distance from the drone.

Public sensitivity:

Please be aware that West Harris is home for many of us and be sensitive to local events such as the Sabbath (Sunday), funerals etc during which we would advise refraining from drone use.

If you are unsure if your drone usage may affect the local residents or wildlife, please contact us at: 01859 503 900 or the RSPB office at 01859 550 280.

Civil Aviation Authority: https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft-and-drones/

Dronesafe: https://dronesafe.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Drone-Code_July2019_WEB.pdf