Drones had received a bad press lately largely due to mis-use around airports however their usage in a land management capacity cannot be understated. Being able to survey large sections of land without disturbing the natural environment is invaluable, as is being able to access areas such as rooves without using ladders or cherry-pickers.
Topographic surveys (also known as maps!), are a fundamental part of all land management projects. Land managers and conservationists work in often remote wilderness areas and the tools required to perform their job (tripods, GPS equipment, laser levels) are bulky and can make traversing certain types of terrain difficult and in some cases almost impossible. Drone surveying means the process is far less time consuming and previously inaccessible areas are able to be surveyed very quickly. Surveying of Large woodlands and lakes, which previously would have had to have been undertaken in teams taking sometimes weeks can now be completed in a matter of days. We have previously blogged about Chalara (or Ash Die-Back) in our woodlands, we are now able to survey woodland aerially which means the identification process is much more swift and the land owner is able to take action much sooner than may otherwise have been the case.
Typical uses of a drone include:
- Roof or structure survey, making inspection quicker, easier and safer
- Tree inspection, looking at damage and signs of decay without needing to climb
- Woodland survey – large areas quickly
- 3D mapping of construction sites
- Mapping new infrastructure eg ponds, woodland
- Deer survey – using infra-red cameras
- Property photography for brochures
- Wildlife survey and counts
James achieved his has PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) from the Civil Aviation Authority in October 2019 having passed all the relevant checks and tests. But flying a drone isn’t as simple as purely receiving your CAA permission.
There is much talk about drone licences and licenced drones. Neither actually exist. Drones (alternatively called UAV’s or Unmanned Ariel Vehicles) are not themselves registered. The operator and the pilot of the drone must be registered with the CAA and have been trained with PfCO if flying commercially.
When undertaking a drone operations the following must be observed in order to be legally compliant with CAA regulations:
- Obtain a weather forecast for the time in which you are planning to fly, to ensure the weather is suitable for flying a drone. Adverse weather conditions will not only impede your survey in extreme cases could damage the drone itself or property in the vicinity of the flight
- Obtain land owners permission
- Check type of airspace to Ensure you are not in or flying in or near an area of restricted airspace i.e. airfield, air traffic zone etc
- You have the relevant public liability insurance
- Keep 50m away from any property where you do not have permission to fly and 150m from built up areas.
- Obtain permission to fly from Air Traffic Control if near an airfield.
In an era when knowledge and data are key to providing a great service, the drone flight offering from James Gillies Consultancy sets us apart from other land managers and ensure we are at the forefront of land management and innovation.