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Flying of Drones in the New Forest

The general use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or drones as they are more commonly known is not permitted on or over New Forest Crown land as part of our byelaws.

In our experience, very few users have the correct training or permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to operate drones and should a drone cause damage or harm, people often do not have the correct insurances to compensate those affected.

Drones should not be flown over people and as much of our land is open access we cannot guarantee an area is ever completely empty. Drones should not be flown near property and the special nature of the New Forest makes the risk of damage more serious.

Questions & Answers 

Why can’t I fly a drone over the New Forest?
The core of the New Forest is Crown Lands and certain acts are prohibited by the Forestry Commissions Byelaws 1982, it’s not a new decision. 5. No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners: xxiii. operate any aircraft, glider, hot-air balloon, boat, raft or craft or any kind, or any model aircraft, boat or car;
For more information about the Forestry Commission byelaws please click here for full details.

 What sort of sanctions are in place is I ignore the byelaw? 

Forestry Commission staff will use their discretion and judgement in dealing with drone flying cases, explaining that this is against the byelaws. We are not currently seeking to prosecute individuals that are flying drones - we want to highlight that drone flying is subject to safety rules that are underpinned by The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules on drones in the UK.

Has there been any specific incidents involving drone flying in the New Forest?
There has been a few incidents reported to us recently, including a ridden horses being spooked by low a flying drone, which has resulted in horses bolting or riders being thrown. Drones have also been reported being used near busy public areas and in sensitive areas in the bird breeding season.

If I’m a responsible drone user, who wishes to operate in the New Forest in compliance with the regulations, who can contact to discuss potential flights with?
Many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and potentially could breach the Forestry Commission’s rules on commercial photography and filming.

Permission to operate a drone on New Forest Crown lands may only be granted by the Forestry Commission for the purposes of filming, operational and scientific/research. Applications for permission will must first be reviewed internally and may be issued with constraints and limitations on use if appropriate.

Users which are granted permission (as listed above) for commercial use must show evidence of a CAA licence and appropriate public liability insurance.

Hobby users will only be allowed if they are part of the Beaulieu Aerodrome model aircraft club and use that facility.

Please do get in touch by emailing  to find out more.



Last updated: 15th August 2018


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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.