Drones banned at German castle

Tourists hoping for a better view of Sanssouci are out of luck. Photo / 123RF
Tourists hoping for a better view of Sanssouci are out of luck. Photo / 123RF

Tourists packing cheap new camera drones for tours of Germany might want to leave them behind: authorities at popular castles are limiting photography to ground-based cameras.

The ubiquitous selfie stick is now largely tolerated at castles and palaces, but authorities are getting fed up with drones buzzing over the grounds and are considering bans - and fines - for pilots.

"We have seen that there are more and more of them," says Wilhelm Schulte, head of administration at Nordkirchen Castle in the Muensterland region.

Initially drones were used by engineering or film students, he says.

"But lately there are more and more amateur pilots just doing it for a hobby."

Drones are now forbidden from buzzing Nordkirchen Castle, which rates as the "Little Versailles of Westphalia", without a special permit.

Similar moves are being announced in other German states.

Unmanned flying objects are now no longer welcome around the state of Brandenburg's historic buildings.

The Prussian Castles and Gardens Trust of Berlin-Brandenburg recently curtly stated: "No drones over Sanssouci" - a palace at Potsdam on the western outskirts of Berlin and one of Germany's top tourist draws.

One reason for the ban was a recent crash. No one was injured when the drone hit the ground, and officials want to keep it that way by banning drones at the castle.

"More and more often we are getting reports of unregistered drone flights in the palace gardens," said a Prussian Trust spokesman.

However, the administration may make some exceptions, approving flights for scientific research or for media purposes.

In the southern state of Bavaria, drones are prohibited from flying around castles, gardens and monuments.

In Saxony there is a drone ban for the Zwinger royal palace and gardens in the heart of Dresden.

Pictures taken by drones for commercial purposes have to be approved, but amateur pilots are being told to pack their toys away.

Elmar Giemulla, an aviation law expert at the Technical University of Berlin, says worldwide sales of drones have reached 300,000 each month.

But he says imposing bans on drones at tourist sites may prove difficult.

"When a drone comes flying overhead, you often don't know where it came from and who it belongs to," he says.

Using a camera, whether hand-held or airborne, is hard to forbid under the country's free-expression laws, he adds.

"Those are public buildings where photographs are being taken all the time," he says.

-AAP

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