UK: Domestic drones: does the government take public debate seriously?

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Does the UK government take public debate on domestic drones seriously? It hasn't yet set a date for a parliamentary debate on domestic drones, says its planned "public dialogue" will likely be "a series of drop-in events around the UK later in the year," and has recently been forced to agree to greater transparency over official plans for drones.

The agreement on transparency came after a complaint was brought to the Information Commissioner by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, which demanded more information on the secretive 'Cross-Government Working Group on ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’'.

The Parliamentary Group and the Working Group have now agreed "arrangements for increased transparency", although "officials maintain this is unconnected to the... court action ". See: Government to release secret details about the use of drones over UK skies, The Independent (2 July 2015)

Amongst other things, the Working Group is obliged to "collate and share a list of all Departmental policies concerning drone use, with web links for members and the public, by 31 July." See: Transparency and government drones policy, APPG (7 July 2015)

That there is so far no date for a parliamentary debate on a March report on domestic drones is mentioned in a recent letter from the House of Lords European Union Committee (which published the report) to the government.

The letter seeks further information on the government's published stance on domestic drones, including on whether the EU should be responsible for regulating drones weighing under 150kg (currently the EU has responsibility for those over 150kg).

The government noted its plans for "a series of drop-ins" in its response to the European Union Committee's original report.

There is extensive background information on the issue in a Statewatch/Drone Wars UK report: Back from the battlefield: domestic drones in the UK, and on the EU's relationship with drones and the drone industry in: Eurodrones, Inc.


  • Boswell of Aynho, Chairman of the European Union Committee, Government Response to Civil Use of Drones in the EU (July 2015, pdf)
  • The Government’s Response to the House of Lords European Union Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2014/15: Civilian Use of Drones in the EU (March 2015, pdf)
  • House of Lords European Union Committee, Civilian Use of Drones in the EU (March 2015, pdf)

    Further reading

  • Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection,
    Opinion 01/2015 on Privacy and Data Protection Issues relating to the Utilisation of Drones (June 2015, pdf)

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