Police will be able to land, seize and search drones, with exclusion zones around airports extended
'Police will be handed extra powers to combat drones after the mass disruption at Gatwick airport in the run-up to Christmas.
Gatwick was repeatedly forced to close between 19 and 21 December due to reported drone sightings, affecting about 1,000 flights. In response the government has announced a package of measures which include plans to give police the power to land, seize and search drones.
The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the use of counter-drone technology at airports and prisons. The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a three-mile radius, with extensions from runway ends.
Ministers announced that from 30 November operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test.
Police will be able to issue fixed-penalty notices for minor drone offences to ensure immediate and effective enforcement of the new rules. Fines of up to £100 could be given for offences such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone, or not showing valid registration to operate one.
No arrests have been made in connection with the Gatwick incident since a couple were released without charge on 23 December.
Sussex police has said it is continuing to investigate “relevant sightings” from 115 witnesses – 93 of whom it described as “credible” – including airport staff, police officers and a pilot.
Speaking in the Commons, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said the disruption caused to flights at Gatwick was “deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal”.
“I’m very clear that when caught those responsible should face the maximum possible custodial sentence for this hugely irresponsible criminal act,” he said.
Grayling said the Ministry of Defence remained “on standby” to deal with any further problems at Gatwick or elsewhere as he sought to reassure MPs that national airports were prepared to deal with a repeat.'
Read more: Police handed new anti-drone powers after Gatwick disruption