Can You Fly a Drone in Richmond Park?
Richmond Park in Richmond upon Thames is a London park that’s part of the Royal Parks system. You’ve heard mixed information about using your drone here, making you curious.
Can you fly a drone in Richmond Park?
You can use a drone in Richmond Park’s Flying Field but not the rest of the park. The Flying Field is located near Sawyer’s Hill. When operating your drone in the field, follow CAA guidelines.
This article will help you find the Flying Field in Richmond Park so you can enjoy a fun time using your drone in London.
We’ll also go over the UK’s drone flight rules, so make sure you don’t miss it!
Can you fly a drone in Richmond Park?
Richmond Park was established in the 17th century by Charles I as a place to host deer. Today, the 2,360-acre park still has deer pass through.
The park is also the biggest Royal Park, a Grade 1 on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a nature reserve.
As a Royal Park, you’re forbidden from flying a drone in most of Richmond Park.
All Royal Parks have the same blanket ban, including:
- Green Park
- Hyde Park
- Regent’s Park
- St. James’s Park
- Bushy Park
- Greenwich Park
- Kensington Gardens
However, unlike the others in the Royal Parks system, Richmond Park has a Flying Field that permits drones.
Richmond Park’s Flying Field – What you need to know
You’ll find the Flying Field on the northern end of Richmond Park toward Sawyer’s Hill.
This designated stretch of land, although not large, is the only place in the park where you’re permitted to operate a drone, just to be clear.
This is a rare chance to fly your UAV in a Royal Park, so make the most of it!
You’re far from the only pilot aware of the Flying Field inside Richmond Park. Since it’s a small area, it’s first come, first serve.
In other words, if you happen to show up later in the day because you hadn’t had time before then and the field is full of drones, you shouldn’t try to squeeze one more drone into the fray.
The Secretary of State requires all pilots operating in the Flying Field to follow these rules.
Don’t fly when you see deer
Deer is synonymous with Richmond Park. If you spot one in the Flying Field, you must stop operating your drone until the deer pass.
Never use your drone to disturb or harass the deer.
No competitive flying
If you want to fly around and do some tricks on your drone in the Flying Field, that’s fine. You can also snap some photos or videos.
However, one thing you can’t do in this part of Richmond Park is compete with someone else in a drone race.
Watch your altitude
The Flying Field restricts pilots from ascending more than 328 feet or 100 meters from the ground.
As the drone pilot, you’re responsible for controlling your own height.
You must have insurance
Richmond Park and the Secretary of State require drone pilots operating in the Flying Field to hold drone insurance protecting from third-party risks caused by gliders, drones, and model aircraft.
You must indemnify Royal Parks on the policy.
Limit your wingspan
All model gliders in the Flying Field cannot surpass 4 meters as a wingspan, and powered model aircraft like drones mustn’t have a wingspan exceeding 1 meter.
What happens if you use your drone outside of Richmond Park’s Flying Field?
Operating your drone in any other part of Richmond Park besides the Flying Field is illegal.
It’s fine to carry your drone with you through the park, but keep it tucked in its case. Don’t have it out and certainly don’t have it on.
It will look to others that you intend to use the drone, and that could land you in hot water with the park’s constables.
Don’t take your drone out until you see the Flying Field notice posted in the park. Then you can begin flying.
If you use your drone in any other part of Richmond Park, you will receive either a warning or a fine.
Can you use your drone outside of Richmond Park?
You had fun at the Flying Field in Richmond Park, and now you’re looking for some adjacent areas to operate your drone.
Can you use your UAV outside of the park?
While the Royal Parks can no longer restrict your drone operation once you leave Richmond Park, other authority sources can.
The CAA enforces drone usage rules throughout the whole of London, not only Richmond Park, after all.
That said, you wouldn’t really want to fly in the area, as there’s not much here.
To the north of the park are:
- Richmond Cemetery
- Conduit Wood
- Palewell Playing Fields
- International Tennis Federation
Left of Richmond Park is the River Thames, which is nice to marvel at but not the best place for a UAV considering that drones and water don’t mix.
To the east of the park, you’ll find Queen Mary’s Hospital and the University of Roehampton London, neither of which is a good place for a drone.
Then south of the park are the Coombe Hill Golf Club and Kingston Hospital, which are again places drones aren’t welcome.
London drone laws to learn before visiting Richmond Park
Besides the aforementioned Flying Field rules enforced by the Secretary of State, the CAA has its own set of rules that all pilots must obey when launching and landing a drone in London.
Let’s go over them now.
You must have an ID
In the UK, a drone license or certificate is referred to as a drone ID. The CAA offers two such kinds of IDs, Flyer IDs, and Operator IDs.
A Flyer ID is for drone pilots. To obtain your ID, you must take a free online theory exam.
If you manage a drone, you need an Operator ID. You can hold both a Flyer ID and Operator ID simultaneously, and many pilots have both to maximize the legal activities they can do with their drones.
You must be at least 18 years old to obtain an Operator ID.
Register your drone
If your drone lacks a camera, classifies as a toy drone, or weighs less than 250 grams, you do not have to register it with the CAA.
All other drones require registration. It’s free to register your drone with a Flyer ID, and registration lasts for five years.
You must pay 10 pounds or $12 USD to register your drone with an Operator ID, and the registration is only valid for a year.
Stay within 50 meters of people
Whether you see people milling about the Richmond Park Flying Field or people in boats, trains, lorries, cars, and other vehicles, the distance between them and your drone cannot exceed 50 meters or 164 feet of horizontal distance.
The height of this imaginary but enforceable no-fly zone extends as far as you can legally fly your zone. This prevents you from flying over people’s heads.
The CAA does make exceptions, such as if you have others involved in a drone activity. You’re allowed to operate your drone in closer proximity.
That’s also the case for drones weighing less than 250 grams. You can even fly over other people with a drone this small.
Avoid crowded areas
No matter how much or how little your drone weighs, you cannot operate it in a crowded environment.
You must avoid shopping areas, religious gatherings, music festivals and events, crowded parks and beaches, sports events, political gatherings, rallies or marches, and carnivals.
Do not use your drone near aircraft and airports
From spaceports to airfields, aircraft, and airports, all these areas are part of a flight restriction zone. Violating that flight restriction zone without permission can lead to five years imprisonment.
Do not fly near industrial, commercial, and recreational sites
At a minimum, you must keep at least 150 meters or 492 feet from industrial, commercial, and recreational sites unless your drone weighs under 250 grams.
The types of buildings to steer clear of are single residential buildings or clusters of residential buildings, towns, villages, cities, housing estates, schools, sports facilities, theme parks, parks and beaches, tourist attractions, business parks, shopping centers, warehouses, transport and rail hubs, docks, and factories.
Richmond Park in London is part of the Royal Parks system, so its access is usually prohibited to drone pilots.
However, because the park has a Flying Field, the rules here differ.
You can operate your drone, but only within the parameters of the Flying Field. Always follow CAA rules to ensure safe operation and have fun!