Drone danger could put events in Fife at risk

An increase in the use of drones could put members of the public at risk at events in Fife.

That’s the claim being made by members of Burntisland Events, organisers of the town’s annual bonfire and fireworks display.

Drones can be dangerous in crowds

Drones can be dangerous in crowds

Richard Perry, a long-standing committee member, told the Press that during the 2017 event – which attracts crowds from around Fife – a solitary drone had been spotted.

But in 2018, spectators had reported seeing up to four drones around the display.

And he claims that, in light of the recent chaos caused by drones at Gatwick Airport, plans to deploy anti-drone devices are long overdue to ensure public safety.

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“In 2018 up to four drones were sighted over a crowd of nearly 10,000,” he said.

“Despite careful planning, risk assessments galore and all that goes with organising and stewarding an event of this kind, a collision between drones or one coming down after running out of fuel is way beyond measures the group organising this, and other events, can take to safeguard the public.”

“I can see how drone owners, looking for some excitement, perhaps to justify their purchase, and with little other meaningful or satisfying use for their ‘toy’, would delight in using events like this to impress friends and make an impact.

“But their use in such circumstances is illegal – but until disaster strikes, it will, no doubt, not merit scarce police resources being used to track the culprits.”

Mr Perry said that the concerns had been raised with police at a follow-up meeting after the bonfire event.

“We were told by Police Scotland that they were being operated illegally because they are not supposed to be used around crowds, and there are restrictions on their operation within a certain distance of a railway line.

“In addition it was dark so how can they be confident they can keep the drone within their sight, which is another requirement for their use?

“With crowds of up 10,000 people, the chances of finding those operating a drone is near impossible.

“We have to demonstrate to public liability insurers that we are taking all reasonable steps to insure the safety of the crowds at our events and we just can’t do that in relation to things like the use of drones – their use could put future events at risk.”

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority told the Press it wasn’t illegal to fly drones at public events as long as they complied with the rules.

They added: “It is illegal to fly a drone over a large group of people unless you are a commercial operator with exemptions.

“However you can have a drone near to a gathering if you comply with the rules which can be found at dronesafe.co.uk ,” he said.

Sergeant Jimmy Adamson of Kirkcaldy police station said: “Drones are becoming more and more popular and we would urge people to be responsible when using them.

“Even small drones can weigh up to seven or eight kilograms and could cause damage or injury if they fall from a height.

“The law states that they should not be flown within 30 metres of a person or building.

“Anything which could interfere with the safe running of any event or gathering could lead to it being cancelled, people being disappointed and jeopardise any future events.”