Use of drones

We are authorised to photograph, film and assess sites in the borough using a flying 'drone' – also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Drones help us to:

  • detect and prevent crime
  • investigate reports of environmental problems – for example, fly-tipping
  • carry out enforcement investigations
  • survey sites

In particular, drones help us to view sites that would be difficult to access on the ground.

An 'operational authorisation' has been granted to Thurrock Council by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), superseding a previous 'Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO)' authorisation – go to CAA: flying in the specific category.

The operational authorisation allows us to operate up to 1000m from the remote pilot and to within 30m of uninvolved persons, subject to the necessary procedures and safeguards.

Your safety and privacy

Strict controls are in place to protect the safety and privacy of Thurrock residents.

All drone flights are given risk assessments and follow strict operations manual procedures, which have been approved as safe by the CAA.

We use qualified unmanned aerial systems (UAS) pilots to fly drones. Each one has passed theory and practical assessments with an organisation approved by the CAA. The operator has overall responsibility for making sure every flight takes place within the law and its amendments.

Our flying drones will, at all times, remain at least 30 metres (98 feet) away from people and buildings that are not in our control.

The operator and a qualified team will make sure that:

  • drone recordings are stored securely
  • any recording that is not relevant to the purpose of the flight will be securely destroyed

The Information Commissioner's Office has been consulted about data protection, and a risk assessment sets rules for how the team must work.

Protecting the safety of other flights

Our operations manual includes the safety procedures we have to follow, such as:

  • pre-flight site visits
  • weather checks
  • risk assessments
  • having support staff on the ground

Drones will not be flown more than 121 metres (400 feet) above ground level. Manned aircraft are not permitted to fly below 500 feet, except during take-off and landing. Strict rules apply to the use of drones near airfields.

More information

Contact our Environmental Protection team if you would like more information about our use of drones.

Environmental Protection

: general.enquiries@thurrock.gov.uk