Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) is currently conducting a public consultation on proposed changes to its Byelaws, which include proposals to change the provisions for the operation of model aircraft.
As written, the proposed changes would change the status of model gliders and the BMFA view is that this proposal would represent an incorrect application of Byelaws and be of detriment to those members who have enjoyed slope soaring on various sites within the National Park for many decades.
The public consultation is open until 1st November and can be found at https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/about-us/who-we-are/byelaws-consultation
The BMFA has submitted a response but has also made direct representations to the Head of Recreation, Access and Estates at DNPA.
We would encourage all members who would like to help protect slope soaring within the National Park to respond.
The Byelaws are wide ranging and cover a variety of activities, but the BMFA’s response to the specific changes proposed for model flying are included below for information. We would request that members responding to the consultation provide comments in their own words (rather than simply copying and pasting the text below).
25. BYELAW 20 KITES, MODEL AIRCRAFT AND DRONES
(ii) No person shall launch any model aircraft or drone from the Access Land unless authorised to do so by the owner of the land and the Authority
For many decades, our members have operated silent unpowered sailplanes from slopes within the park without causing any nuisance or issue. This activity is of minimal impact (as per kite flying) and we therefore request that the wording continues to reflect this:
(i) No Person shall fly a kite or model glider from or over the Access Land in such a manner as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to any other person or in such a manner as is likely to startle or disturb stock or wildlife on the land
Similarly, we would request that the wording of (ii) is also amended reflect the fact that it would generally be powered aircraft which would be considered to constitute any nuisance (in terms of noise):
(ii) No person shall launch any power-driven model aircraft or drone from the Access Land unless authorised to do so by the owner of the land and the Authority.
26. BYELAW 20 KITES, MODEL AIRCRAFT AND DRONES
(iii) No person shall operate any model aircraft or drone over the Access Land at a height or location that may disturb stock or wildlife or cause a nuisance to another person.
The primary legal function of byelaws is to control nuisance in the absence of any existing measures within primary legislation. The flights of unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) are covered by primary legislation (the Air Navigation order and the EU Implementing Regulation described in CAP722). This defines legal separation distances for the operation of all unmanned aircraft.
The Authority is perfectly entitled to implement byelaws to control activities which take place on (or from) its land. However, aircraft once airborne fall directly under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Authority. As written, the byelaw seeks to control (with duplication and contradiction of existing primary laws) the operation of aircraft within the airspace above its land.
We would request that as a minimum, the wording of (iii) should be amended to reflect the fact that the purpose of the byelaw is to control nuisance and in the main this would only be considered to arise from power driven aircraft (in terms of noise).
We therefore request that the wording is amended to:
(iii) No person shall operate any power-driven model aircraft or drone over the Access Land at a height or location that may disturb stock or wildlife or cause nuisance to another person.