Rules govern drone use at beauty spots

John Dobson and Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Great Southern beauty spots such as Bluff Knoll and The Gap lend themselves to aerial photos but the rapid rise of drone photography has left many drone users with no knowledge of the strict regulations of filming in such locations.

Flying drones in or over any national park or reserve requires written permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

While a spokeswoman for DPaW said it had not received any official complaints about drones in Great Southern parks, there were strict regulations in place.

The spokeswoman said drones were popular, particularly for filming and photography.

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“In parks and reserves these craft can pose potential danger to visitors, other air users and operators if they crash,” she said.

“There are also environmental concerns relating to visual and noise impacts that may affect wildlife, as well as the increased risk to wildfire if craft crash, particularly if they have combustion engines.

“These craft may detract from other visitors’ experiences, places of cultural significance as well as impact on visitor privacy.”

The spokeswoman also said traditional landowners had raised concerns about the use of drones and their cultural values.

Under Civil Aviation Regulations, anyone wishing to launch, land or make a touchdown of any kind must have written permission from DPaW.

However, the rapid rise of drone use in the recreational and commercial sectors has caught authorities and local governments off guard.

All drone users are required to comply with rules set out by the Federal Civil Aviation Safety Authority, but some councils are getting proactive in the face of safety and privacy concerns.

Albany Aerial Imaging owner Brad Harkup said many drone users did not know the current regulations.

“It’s stated that any populous area is restricted by any drone, unless certified — this includes beaches and residential areas,” he said.

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