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Use of drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Drone flights over the River Thames

The tidal Thames is the busiest inland waterway in the UK and the river is used by a wide variety of boats and ships ranging from the world’s largest container ships to numerous passenger boats and small recreational craft. The river’s bridges, embankment areas and piers are popular areas for its passengers and the passing general public. The river is also home to high profile attractions, high security buildings and structures, and a vast amount of construction work.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has a statutory responsibility to the safety of all of those using the River Thames and therefore, needs to be notified about any intended UAV flight over the river.

Those wishing to fly a UAV over the Thames should notify us at least 3 working days in advance, to enable us to assess the potential impact it might have on the safety of river users. Please notify us at your earliest opportunity, completing as much detail as possible through our Drone Online Notification Portal.

Once the PLA is satisfied the intended flight will not cause a hazard to navigation reply accordingly. Some flights will require a filming licence, or further controls to protect those using the river and if this is the case our team will respond directly with further questions.

Any person wishing to fly a UAV over the River Thames should also ensure they are aware of the relevant legislation and codes of practice applicable to which they must comply. Operators should also obtain necessary permissions from other relevant authorities, including, but not limited to:

  1. Civil Aviation Authority;
  2. National Air Traffic Services;
  3. Relevant riparian (riverside) local authority and landowner consent where the drone flight and exclusion area will impact on adjacent land;
  4. Any necessary consents for flying in exclusion area(s) and / or near high-profile locations or structures;
  5. Metropolitan Police filming unit (in the central London area);
  6. Finally, the drone operator / applicant must ensure they have the prior written permission of the riverside landowner from which they intend to take off and land.

PLEASE NOTE: The drone operator / applicant is responsible for ensuring all permissions / consents have been applied for and granted. The PLA accepts no liability for issues arising due to failure of the operator to gain such necessary consents.

Click here to submit flight information via our Drone Online Notification Portal