A county councillor for the Lliedi ward has been accused of flouting regulations, which have been set by his own local authority and by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Councillor Rob James placed a photo of the Heol Goffa School on his Facebook page, which he had allegedly taken from a drone. In the post  he asked for responses as to what to do with the Heol Goffa building when the school moves to the Wellness Centre.

Following correspondence received from a number of people complaining about the post who did not wish to be named Llanelli Online contacted the councillor to ask if he had a license to fly the drone and if he had sought permission of the local authority to take a photograph of their building.

Cllr James responded: “The photo is mine. I used a friends drone (hoping to buy my own soon), as I was taking footage of the knotweed at the back of the school.”

We contacted Carmarthenshire County Council. We asked if they were aware of the photograph and if they would be investigating the matter. They responded:

“Anyone flying a drone needs to first ask permission of the landowner, if that’s us then we ask people to complete a filming permission request form and we deal with their request following guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority. We also ask for copies of public liability insurance, risk assessments etc.”

There are regulations set by the CAA which state:

The CAA operates a permissions and exemptions scheme which is designed to enable operations beyond the normal bounds of the regulations laid down within the Air Navigation Order (ANO), provided that the CAA is satisfied that this can be achieved in a safe manner.

Permissions and/or exemptions are valid for up to 12 months and are subject to an annual renewal. The CAA is required to make a charge for these.

A General Exemption has been issued which allows an element of ‘First Person View’ (FPV) flight to be conducted. The exemption covers the conditions that must be observed while employing this privilege.

Article 95 of the ANO states that, if you wish to fly your camera fitted drone:

within 150m of either a congested area or an organised open air crowd or more than 1000 persons
and / or within 50m of people or properties/objects that are not under your control
then you will need to obtain a Permission from the CAA in order to do so legally. Because the Permission will enable you to reduce the normal safety limits that have been set out for drone operations, the CAA must obviously be satisfied that you are able to do this safely.

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