As a journalist, it's my job to be unbias and not express an opinion - to merely report the news and the facts.
However, on this occasion I'm going to break all the rules.
It's a sad and worrying time for the drone industry as the Civil Aviation Authority are pushing ahead with new regulations.... yes..... even more, tighter rules, and it concerns me as to where we are going to end up.
The proposed regulations come into force in October this year and will revolve around a registration scheme (pretty much similar to the USA model that failed) - however, the fees are set to be the highest in any country.
All drone owners will have to register and pay a fee of £16.50. However, if the CAA don't get the number of registrations they expect, the fee could be considerably higher. The database system, they have employed has to be paid for by the registration fees collected - therefore if they don't get enough registrations, they will charge more to those that have registered.
So who is going to register? Well, the concensus among our readers is that many are not going to register in protest. In theory, all legally operating drone users will register but those that break the law will not.... rendering the registration scheme useless.
So what's our take on this? I totally agree with the registration fee. However..... it should be set at a more realistic level (or even free). £5 or £10 would have been more acceptable.
We need a promise from the CAA that the police will have the powers to deal with those that fail to register:
Instant confiscation of the drone Instant, on the spot fine of £200
Oh and there's another issue......
Did you know that those that already have PfCO and have paid huge fees, have to pay the extra fee as well? That is 100% unacceptable. The CAA needs to stop milking the legal operators and concentrate on prosecuting the illegal users.
So what can we do? Do we simply refuse to pay the fee? If we do that then we are liable to prosecution and technically, it makes us no better than the illegal users
Do we complain? Absolutely YES. There's still time to object to the CAA although it's unlikely to make much difference
Write to your local MP and state your case
This could destroy the industry If this goes pear-shaped, it will have an effect on the drone industry. Youngsters will not take up the hobby, one because they will be too young to register and two, they won't want the hassle.
Drone sales will go down and companies will go bust
Legally operating users will face extra financial hardship and the public perception of drones will plummet..... the police will receive thousands of phone calls about drones, for them to go and check for registration....... it will cost the industry millions and for what? So that the CAA can cover their own backs and cover their expenses.
In the next magazine we will investigate this further and run a survey among our readers that we can submit to the CAA
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