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25 May 2018

We’re not droning on

Written by Liza Cole, Property Manager/Senior Ranger Naturalist, St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve
A rugged coastline, with waves crashing against cliffs at St Abb's Head.
St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve
With great images comes great responsibility – Liza Cole explains the ups and downs of drones at Trust places.

Who doesn’t love a good drone shot? Thanks to these amazing devices, there are some pretty spectacular photos and footage of our places on the internet. This is really exciting, but with great images comes great responsibility!

As we’re now at the height of the seabird breeding season, and with lots of other wildlife active as well, it seems like a good time to remind visitors of the rules we have for flying drones at Trust places.

We try to welcome drones where we can. However, to protect the people, wildlife and places in our care, we have some pre-flight checks for pilots:

  • Always ask for permission in advance – if you’d like to fly your drone, please contact the property directly. If we possibly can, we will give permission. Please pay attention to any advice given about areas where you cannot fly. It’s possible that some properties or parts of properties might be ‘no drone zones’ at some times of year, particularly in the summer. For example, 1 April–31 July is a no-fly period at St Abb’s Head to prevent disturbance to our breeding birds, especially seabirds.
  • Get your insurance sorted – anyone who wants to fly a drone at one of our properties (even our countryside and coastal sites) needs to have public liability insurance in place.
  • Brush up on your safety tips – make sure you are up to speed with the Civil Aviation Authority’s drone safety advice and that you review this regularly.
  • If your filming or photography is for commercial purposes, please contact the Trust’s dedicated Filming Manager to discuss further by emailing

Once you’re on site, please follow any signs or guidance given from the team on the ground. And if you spot any rogue drones that seem to be upsetting wildlife or visitors, or damaging our places, let a member of staff know.

That’s it! Now, time to get planning that next trip …

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