Call for action on drone use

The NFU has called for action on the irresponsible use of drones after a case of “sheep worrying” was reported.

A Hampshire farmer who thought his ewes were being attacked by a dog discovered they were being disturbed by a drone. “Worrying can cause severe distress, with pregnant ewes often miscarrying their lambs,” said an NFU spokesman. “In some cases, animals die from shock.”

The call comes as the government launches a consultation on proposed measures. New measures being consulted on include mandatory registration of new drones over 250 grams, a theory test for users, increased penalties for misuse of drones and potential new criminal offences to deter and address misbehaviour when operating drones.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “There are exciting developments in the pipeline for on-farm drone use, such as crop applications. However, we are also aware of instances of irresponsible use of drones by members of the public and hope that any new legislation will introduce measures to protect farmers and landowners from this.

“We stress to drone owners the importance of not flying near livestock, who can react in unpredictable ways. There is risk of causing distress to the animals, sometimes fatal, and it can lead to trampling.”

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