Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

ChCh Council approves new policy on drones

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone. Drones over 1.5kg will now require approval from the Council. Photo / File
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone. Drones over 1.5kg will now require approval from the Council. Photo / File

Christchurch City Council has today approved a new policy governing the flying of drones over its public spaces.

The policy, which comes into effect from August 1, requires anyone wanting to fly a drone, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), weighing more than 1.5kgs to gain consent before flying over a council park or reserve.

Drones weighing 1.5kgs or less are deemed a lower safety risk under the policy and may fly over most council parks and reserves without consent.

However, the policy identifies a number of blanket permission-required areas, including over the Botanic Gardens, cemeteries, open-air public pools, playgrounds and some areas with sensitive wildlife.

Other local councils, including Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Timaru and Waimakiriri, have adopted similar policies.

Christchurch City Councillor Raf Manji, Chair of the Strategy and Finance Committee, said the council wants people to enjoy flying their drones in a safe and responsible way, in accordance with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules.

"The new policy is a balanced one, in that it allows for drone flights over council parks and reserves, while still managing public concerns around safety, privacy and noise," he said.

"It also means the majority of recreational lightweight drones being sold over the counter or online won't need consent to fly over a council park or reserve, unless the area falls within one of the permission-required sites."

Last year, the CAA introduced rules requiring drone flyers to obtain landowners' consent before flying over properties, including those owned by local councils.

The council currently receives an average of 47 requests per month to fly drones over its properties, which are assessed by staff on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants to the council must acknowledge they adhere to specific CAA rules, depending on the size and use of the drone.

Drones weighing between 15 and 25kgs must also be approved by Model Flying New Zealand.

* Further information about Civil Aviation rules and safe drone flying is available online: www.caa.govt.nz/rpas

- NZ Herald

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