Use of drones

We are authorised to photograph, film and assess sites in the borough using a flying 'drone' – also known as a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS).

Drones help us to:

  • detect and prevent crime
  • investigate reports of environmental problems – for example, burning trade waste
  • 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). This allows us to operate under a standard permission using an approved operations manual and full risk assessments.

Your safety and privacy

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

We use qualified remote pilots to fly drones. Each operator has a General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC), having passed theory and practical flight exams assessed by a CAA-approved organisation. The operator has overall responsibility for making sure every flight takes place safely and within the law and its amendments.

The qualified drone team will make sure:

  • images and video recordings captured drone are stored securely
  • any images or recordings not relevant to the purpose of the flight will be securely destroyed

The Information Commissioner's Office has been consulted about data protection. 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 airspace observer support staff on the ground

Drones will not be flown more than 121 metres (400 feet) above the surface. Manned aircraft – except military and emergency services – 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

: envhealthadmin@thurrock.gov.uk