Use of drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
The Milford Haven Waterway south of the Cleddau Bridge is a busy commercial port and the largest energy hub in the UK. At all times of the day and night this busy river is used by a wide variety of boats and larger vessels – from small recreational craft through to passenger vessels and larger cargo and freight vessels, primarily oil and gas carriers serving the oil and gas terminals. The shores of the lower river are also used by walkers, leisure users, other forms of tourism and the wider general public.
Unregulated and careless drone use carries many potential hazards – ranging from risk of injury to passengers / crew on boats through to collision with oncoming vessels.
Consequently, the river is not a safe place for the routine use of any type of low flying aircraft – manned or unmanned. In particular, the Milford Haven Waterway cannot be regarded as a convenient ‘corridor’ or ‘space’ for drone flying.
However, there are occasions when professional film makers request use of a drone to film a particular scene or berth operators use them to survey their berth. In such instances, the request will be considered carefully by Milford Haven Port Authority, taking into account the following:
1. Whether the applicant has carefully considered the potential hazards
2. Whether the scene/operation can be achieved without a drone, therefore avoiding disruption and potential hazard to river operations, eg by:
- Filming from a boat on the river
- Using a jib arm / crane / cherry picker on dry land or on the tidal foreshore area
- Using a manned helicopter operating at a safe altitude that does not disrupt river traffic or violate any airspace restrictions
In the event a drone is considered, this will be subject to the following requirements:
1. A minimum of two weeks’ notice must be provided
2. The application should include:
- Proposed time and duration of filming
- Proposed location (to include a diagram showing flight area and take-off and landing site for the drone)
- Risk assessment and method statement
- Insurance including public liability
- Details of proposed drone operating company – ie CAA licences / certificates; type / size / weight of UAV
3. Applicant will also need to secure the following written consents for the specific date and location
- Port of Milford Haven
- Relevant riparian (riverside) local authority and landowner consent where the drone flight and exclusion area will impact on adjacent land.
River traffic management
- If appropriate, a MHPA Notice to Mariners will be issued and river traffic controlled by the MHPA VTS for the duration of any filming. Any costs of both these activities must be borne in full by the film maker
- It is a basic requirement that the drone maintains a minimum of at least 50 metres from any person, vessel, bridge, pier or other structure
Upriver of the Cleddau Bridge there is rarely any commercial traffic but it is a busy area for leisure traffic and there are several mooring areas with a significant number of yachts and other leisure craft moored during the season.
Similar requirements for any commercial drone/UAV filming exist for this area; notice must be given and a risk assessment and method statement must be lodged with MHPA but these may necessarily be different in scale from such work in the more commercial areas.
Attention is drawn to the Civil Aviation Authority Information Notice Number: IN-2016/073.
Non Commercial Drone/UAV Use
While there are no licencing or certification requirements in place for ‘leisure’ use of drones etc, the same strictures regards the use of drones are in place.
Users must make themselves familiar with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements such as maintain line of sight control over a drone, stay below 120m, keep a minimum of 50m from any person, vessel, bridge, pier or other structure, keep a minimum of 150m from crowds or built up areas.
See the Drone Code website published by CAA.
Drone use by Emergency Services
Drones/UAV may be used by the emergency services separate to any licensing requirements of MHPA but will generally comply with CAA certification and requirements for Emergency Service drone use.