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Cygnet Rowing Club
on the Tideway since 1890
CSSC Sports and Leisure

Use of Drones

27th February 2017

The PLA have asked me to inform all clubs of the following;

It has recently been brought to the attention of the Port of London Authority (PLA) the use of a Drone by a rowing club, filming one of their crews racing a non-tideway club. Therefore we would like to remind all clubs that the tidal Thames is the busiest inland waterway in the UK and unregulated or careless use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles carries many potential hazards - ranging from risk of injury to passengers / crew on boats through to collision with oncoming vessels. There are also hazards to users of London's bridges and piers.

Consequently, the river is not a safe place for the routine use of any type of low flying aircraft - manned or unmanned. In particular the Thames cannot be regarded as a convenient 'corridor' or 'space' for drone flying.

However, there are occasions when professional film makers request use of a drone to film particular scenes and in such instances, the request will be considered carefully, taking into account the following:

  1. whether the applicant has carefully considered the potential hazards
  2. whether the operation can be achieved without a drone, therefore avoiding disruption and potential hazard to river operations, eg by:
  • filming from a boat on the river
  • using a jib arm / crane / cherry picker on dry land or on the tidal foreshore area
  • using a manned helicopter operating at a safe altitude that does not disrupt river traffic (eg using existing helicopter flight paths in London)


In the event a drone is considered, this will be subject to the following requirements:

  1. A minimum of four weeks' notice of must be provided
  1. The application should include:
  • proposed time and duration of filming
  • proposed location (to include a diagram showing flight area and take-off and landing site for the drone)
  • risk assessment and method statement
  • insurance including public liability
  • details of proposed drone operating company - ie CAA licences / certificates; type / size / weight of UAV
  1. Applicant will also need to secure the following written consents for the specific date and location
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • National Air Traffic Services
  • relevant riparian (riverside) local authority and landowner consent where the drone flight and exclusion area will impact on adjacent land
  • Metropolitan Police filming unit (in the central London area)

River traffic management

If appropriate, a PLA Notice to Mariners will be issued and river traffic controlled by the PLA for the duration of any filming. The costs of both these activities must be borne in full by the film maker.

It is a basic requirement that the drone maintains a minimum of at least 50 metres from any person; vessel; bridge; pier; or other structure.

Filming Licence

As with all filming and photography on the tidal Thames, a filming licence fee is also payable to the PLA. The fee must be agreed in advance with the PLA and settled in advance of the licence being issued

Antony Reynolds

Rowing Safety Adviser | Thames Regional Rowing Council

Mobile: +44 (0) 77 3415 7644

Email: safety@thames-rrc.org

Web: http://www.thames-rrc.org

Author: Neil Pickford


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