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New Zealand’s Christchurch approves new drones policy

Staff writer |
New Zealand's Christchurch City Council has approved a new drone policy that governs the flying of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) or drones over its properties such as roads, cycleways, buildings and events.

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To be effective from August, the new policy mandates any individual wishing to fly a drone weighing more than 1.5kg to receive consent before flying over a council park or reserve.

Under the new policy, drones weighing 1.5kg or less are deemed a lower safety risk and could fly over most council parks and reserves without permission.

Blanket permission is required to fly drones over certain areas, including Botanic Gardens, cemeteries, open-air public pools, playgrounds and some areas with sensitive wildlife.

The council noted that the new policy was developed in accordance with the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules to ensure safety while flying a drone.

Christchurch City Council strategy and finance committee chair Raf Manji said: "Civil Aviation rules apply to everybody who flies a drone, regardless of the drone's weight or whether it's flying over your own property or someone else's. That's why it's important to know the rules before you fly any size drone anywhere.

"It's also important to emphasise that the council doesn't decide or enforce the aviation rules around drones, that's the CAA's job. However, the council can decide who it grants consent to with regard to drones and its properties.

"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.

"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."

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