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Can You Fly a Drone in Exmouth, UK?

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Exmouth is a seaside resort and port town in Devon, England that regularly attracts large crowds for its beaches, restaurants and brasseries, and quaint B&Bs. You might have a visit scheduled to this part of the UK.

Can you fly your drone in Exmouth, UK?

According to the East Devon District Council, drones can only fly in Exmouth with written permission from the council. In your written request, you’ll have to include information such as a site assessment, flight description, and a copy of your flight plan for your request to be approved.

If you’re interested in using a drone in Exmouth, this guide is for you.

We’ll detail the drone flight laws for this tiny coastal town and go into a lot more detail about getting flight permission, so make sure you keep reading!

Can you fly a drone in Exmouth? #

While pilots once had greater flight freedoms in Exmouth, as of the late 2020s, that’s no longer the case.

A 2021 article from Exmouth Nub News [1] explains that the East Devon District Council has sought to limit the number of drones out and about throughout East Devon, as the numbers had gotten too high.

Today, if you want to fly your drone around Exmouth, you must first contact the East Devon District Council and obtain a written letter of permission from them.

If you don’t, then flying in the area is illegal.

Obtaining written permission to fly in Exmouth from the East Devon District Council #

The Exmouth Nub News article delves deeply into all the information required for the East Devon District Council to consider your request. Let’s go over that information now.

Flight description #

First, you have to include a full description of your flight plans. The more detailed you can be here, the better.

For instance, you might describe precisely where you want to fly your drone in Exmouth with the names of locations and addresses, the dates you wish to fly, and for roughly how long.

» MORE: Can I Fly a Drone over a Motorway? (UK)

Copy of Permission for Commercial Operation document #

In the UK, where Exmouth is located, you’re not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration but rather, the Civil Aviation Authority.

The CAA issues Permission for Commercial Operation or pfCO documents. What is a pfCO document, you ask?

It’s explicit permission for drone pilots to fly commercially in the UK. If you don’t have this permission, then you can’t fly in Exmouth.

Copy of site assessment #

You also need a site assessment for your proposed drone flight where you identify any risks and hazards that may exist in the flight area and plan to remediate them or at least accommodate for them.

Copy of flight plan #

You also have to include a copy of your flight plan when requesting flight permission in Exmouth from the Devon District Council.

The flight plan should include precisely where you plan to launch your drone as well as where you plan to land it.

Copy of public liability insurance #

You must have public liability insurance that covers at least £10,000,000 which is approximately $12,141,250 USD. Be sure to include a copy of your insurance forms as well.

Commercial filming fee #

There’s yet one more thing that only commercial pilots have to worry about, and that’s paying a fee of £200 or $243 USD to the East Devon District Council for any commercial drone activities, including filming and photography.

You’d send in the fee ahead of receiving your final flight permission.

What happens when you receive flight permission from the East Devon District Council? #

According to the Exmouth Nub News article:

“Permission will only be granted, where usage of a drone device aids risk reduction in the work place such as working at height, land and building survey work, or for the undertaking professional services such as festivals, archaeological survey, events media, and then subject to conditions.”

If you are indeed granted permission to fly your drone, before you take to the skies, you have to agree to certain rules and terms.

For instance, you must “have in place suitable secure arrangements for the handling of personal data captured.”

That statement seems to pertain to violating the privacy of others with your UAV, which is a poor choice to do with your drone any day and is very often illegal.

If any injuries occur, you must promise to indemnify the East Devon District Council. You’d be responsible for the damage caused, not Exmouth.

You’re also required to follow CAA rules, including all existing drone codes and the Air Navigation Order.

The Air Navigation Order [2] is a drone law that was first established in 2016 and has since been amended in 2022.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Epping Forest?

What happens if you fly a drone illegally in Exmouth? #

Exmouth and the East Devon District Council established the drone rules as detailed above to prevent harassment and noise disturbances to its residents as well as the tourists that love to visit this area.

Exmouth has many open spaces and parks throughout the small town, so if a drone was causing a ruckus, lots of people would be able to hear it.

Further, the town worries about what would happen if a drone accident occurred that caused damage to green spaces or even the town’s residents. No one wants to be sued!

So what happens if you fly a drone illegally in the area?

Well, the Exmouth Nub News article states that you’ll be asked to stop flying your drone but that “No details in the policy are provided as to what happens if they [the drone pilot] refuse the request to stop” as well as what happens to repeat offenders.

The policy is still new, so that can explain why it hasn’t been enacted to the fullest extent of the law yet.

You don’t want to be the first drone pilot to find out the hard way what would happen if you violated Exmouth’s drone rules, we’re sure.

In other parts of the world, the punishments usually include minor to more substantial fines depending on how many times you’ve flown your drone illegally. You could even possibly have to serve a jail sentence in some cases.

Then there are always the possibilities that your drone could be confiscated or that you could be barred from returning to Exmouth again. It’s a small enough town that you wouldn’t be able to hide from the authorities.

All in all, it simply isn’t worth it to try to bend the rules.

If you don’t have a permit, or if you apply for a permit and the East Devon District Council turns you down, then you’re going to have to find another part of the UK to fly in outside of Exmouth. 

Exmouth is a small coastal town in the East Devon area of the UK. In recent years, the town has begun enforcing stricter drone laws for the peace of its people and tourists and to avoid lawsuits and other legal entanglements.

You can’t fly a drone in Exmouth commercially or recreationally unless you go through the East Devon District Council and obtain written permission first.

If you don’t have permission, then don’t fly.

Just because the laws haven’t been cracked down upon yet doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future.

The Exmouth drone laws are still very new, so don’t become a cautionary tale for other drone pilots to take heed of! 

References:1. Exmouth Nub News (link)2. The Air Navigation (link)


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