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UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy

Volume 666: debated on Monday 21 October 2019

I am pleased to announce today that I am publishing the Government’s UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy (“the strategy”).

In recent years unmanned aircraft including drones have evolved rapidly in capability, availability, and their uptake for commercial and leisure use. The development of unmanned aircraft technology presents significant opportunities. In coming years drones have the potential to revolutionise industries such as logistics and even personal transport.

We want to safeguard this potential in order to maximise the economic benefits drones can bring to the UK. This strategy aims to do that by setting out our approach to countering the threat the malicious or negligent use of drones can bring, as happened at Gatwick Airport in December 2018. It will provide the security the public and drone users require to continue to enjoy the benefits of leisure and commercial drone use, and facilitate the growth of the drone industry.

The Government have been working for some time to reduce the risks associated with illegal drone use. Since the Gatwick incident, we have made significant progress in our ability to respond to illegal drone activity. But given the challenge posed by rapid advances in drone technology, and the threat it has the potential to pose, the Strategy will provide overarching direction to our efforts.

The UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy focuses on mitigating the highest-harm domestic risks resulting from malicious use of aerial drones. These include:

Facilitating terrorist attacks;

Facilitating crime, especially in our prisons; and

Disrupting critical national infrastructure (CNI)

The strategy is forward-looking, flexible and will evolve along with the underlying technology to keep ahead of the threat. It encompasses the roles of both Government and industry, and sits alongside CONTEST, the UK’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy. It offers a single vision to ensure coherence, efficiency and value for money. It will also promote UK prosperity and inward investment, showing our intent to create a safe and collaborative environment for the incorporation of drones into business and society, as well as for the UK becoming a world leader in counter-drone technology.

The strategy is only concerned with countering the malicious, illegal use of aerial drones. A forthcoming aviation strategy will set out the Government’s strategy for the safe use of emerging aviation technology, including legal drone use.

Copies of the strategy are available in the Vote Office and to download from the website.