Drone and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) usage guidance

Drone flying guidelines

The use of drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) taking off, landing or flying over council land is not permitted without permission granted by Salford City Council.

In response to an upsurge in public request and usage occurrences on council land including parks, public open spaces and highways this guidance advises amateur, hobbyist/recreational, commercial and professional pilots how to apply for permissions to pilot a drone/UAS in airspace over Salford City Council land or buildings.

Drone/UAS pilots must comply with this guidance document and guidance located on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

The council currently permits the use of drones/UAS on areas of council owned land that are open to the public to those who have obtained prior permission. Permission is required as there may be some location exceptions due to safety concerns.

Each application is assessed on the documentation provided, impact on other site users and risk.

What you need to fly on council land

You must request permission to operate a drone/UAS from land or premises occupied or managed by Salford City Council.

To fly a drone/UAS on or above council land, you will need to submit a formal request to pilot a drone via email.

Alongside the form, are required to provide:

  • Your flyer ID (applicable if the drone/UAS is 250g and above).
  • Your Operator ID (applicable if the drone/UAS has a camera and/or above 250g).
  • Details of the drone/UAS, including the weight and a picture of the drone/standard classification number/UAS with your operator ID displayed.
  • A risk assessment for the activity.
  • A copy of the pilot’s public liability insurance policy (must have a minimum indemnity of £5 million).
  • A flight plan including map of launch and landing points and timings.

The Civil Aviation Authority will provide you with a flyer and Operator ID once registered with them. Find out more on the Civil Aviation Authority flying drones and model aircraft webpage.

It is recommended that you have public liability insurance to cover any accident that may occur when you are flying the drone/UAS. It is unlikely that your household insurance policy would provide cover for drone/UAS use and you will therefore need to seek separate insurance cover. The British Model Flying Association provides insurance for its members, find out more on the British Model Flying Association insurance webpage.

Drone law and safety

As a drone operator, you are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight. If you break the law when piloting a drone/UAS you can be fined or experience legal litigation.

The Civil Aviation Authority website provides information and guidance associated with the operation of drones/UAS.

The most recent (2023) law requires all new drones/UAS to have standard classification (C0,C1,C2,C3,C4). Any older drones/UAS with an EU class mark will no longer be recognised in the UK but can be flown under transitional provision until the 1st January 2026.

Drone/UAS pilots must look and listen for nearby low-flying aircraft, such as air ambulances, military aircraft, and police helicopters, and land the drone in a safe and convenient place if low-flying aircraft are passing by. If you endanger the safety of an aircraft, you could go to prison for five years. Salford City Council has a responsibility to share details of the drone flying application with investigating bodies in instances of legal proceedings.

In all circumstances those flying drones must take full responsibility for any incidents arising from their use and comply with the Air Navigation Order (2016) as amended.

Drones/UAS cannot be used at night, out of daylight hours or with First Person View without special permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Drone/UAS must be kept within the pilot’s line of sight. Salford City Council will not accept spotters or relying on someone not in control of the drone relaying messages about its position.

The Drone/UAS can only be operated 500 metres horizontally and 120 metres vertically. Operation beyond the distances stated need special approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

On/over council land drones must not be flown:

  • Within 150 metres of any congested area,
  • Within 150 metres of an outdoor assembly of more than 1,000 people,
  • Within 50 metres of any individual except during take-off and landing.
  • Within 50 metres of any other vehicle, structure or property.
  • In poor weather, especially high winds, where there is an increased risk of losing control.

The pilot must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property. The pilot must have the necessary insurance in place in the event of an accident, personal injury, or damage to property.

Site exceptions

Drone/UAS use can cause significant disturbance impacts on wildlife. This is particularly pertinent where the habitats are of notable value for wintering and breeding waders (these birds perceive the drone as a bird of prey). The risk to wildlife will be carefully managed upon application. This may be more prevalent in bird breeding season (February-August).

Locations with significant risks (trainlines, overhead power cables, livestock, aviation proximity) are restricted from any drone/UAS use.

Restrictions on flying drones (250g and above)

Hobbyist/recreational drone/UAS exceeding 250g should never be within 150m of residential, recreational, commercial and industrial areas.
There is a 50-metre horizontal “no-fly zone” around people that stretches to the top of the 120m legal fly limit. You must not pilot a drone above people that aren’t directly involved with the activity, even if you fly higher than 50 meters.

The pilot must assess if the “no-fly zone” needs to be expanded to keep people safe, such as when flying at height or in poor weather conditions. You must land the drone/UAS if external factors, such as poor weather conditions, puts anybody at risk. The drone/UAS pilot is responsible for any incident or injury that has occurred due to their drone flying activity.

Restrictions on flying drones (below 250g)

Smaller drones still have the potential to cause injury, and it remains the responsibility of the drone pilot to ensure the drone is piloted safely.

Hobbyist/recreational drones/UAS under 250g should never be piloted within 150m of residential, commercial, and industrial areas, unless for commercial use.

Drones/UAS under 250g can fly within 50m of a person at a reasonable distance but should never be piloted over a crowd of people. The drone pilot is responsible for any incident or injury that has occurred due to their drone flying activity.

You must land the drone/UAS if external factors, such as poor weather conditions, puts anybody at risk.

Commercial drone use

Outfitted drones/UAS (can record audio, video or take still pictures) can be piloted in residential, commercial, and industrial areas for commercial use, where the purpose of flying the drone is to reduce risk in the workplace, such as working at height, carrying out land/building survey work or undertaking a professional service such as marketing, film productions or events.

If you are a commercial operator and would like permission for a drone to take off, land or fly over Salford City Council property or the public highway for filming purposes, you will need to complete a filming application via the council Filming in Salford webpage and share the following documents:

  • A completed film application
  • Operator ID
  • Flyer ID
  • Drone/UAS classification number
  • Evidence of pilot competence with A2 Certificate of Competency
  • Drone Categorisation Operational Authorisation Corporate Health and Safety Manager - February 2021
  • Confirmation of compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority navigation order
  • Public indemnity insurance (must comply with the regulations EC 785/2004)
  • Site specific risk assessment
  • Operation plan for the event/flight and if applicable a copy of drone assist maps
  • Drone flight map (drone airspace map)
  • A signed Salford City Council indemnity form
  • Pre-site survey and site map (including ‘no fly’ areas and flight perimeters)

Depending on the nature of your request you may be required to pay a filming location fee which will be advised in advance and invoiced.

Contact details of the person responsible for paying the invoice will by required (name, postal and email address and telephone number).

Drone/UAS Training on Salford City Council land

Permission will not be granted by Salford City Council to use council greenspace, buildings or highways for training others to fly drone/UAS.
Permission will only be granted for those already trained and licensed to pilot drone/UAS on or above council owned land/buildings.


If the drone is outfitted with the means to record audio, video or takes still pictures, the pilot will be subject to data protection laws and will need to meet specific requirements as a data controller. This includes collecting consent of anyone whose image may be recognisable in your footage, for children you will need to obtain consent from their legal guardian.

More information on data protection can be found on the UK Government data protection webpage.

How to request permission

Hobbyist/recreational pilots with a drone/UAS without a camera should email parks@salford.gov.uk for permission.

Within your email please provide:

  • Location, date and time of flight
  • Operator ID
  • Flyer ID
  • A copy of your insurance
  • Details about the drone/UAS (including the weight and a picture of the drone/ Classification number/UAS with your operator ID displayed)
  • A flight plan including map of launch and landing points and timings
  • A risk assessment

Your risk assessment should show how you will comply with the terms of your Civil Aviation Authority licence.

For commercial/outfitted (drone/UAS with recording and photo capturing abilities) a filming a filming application and supporting documents are required. Please see above ‘commercial drone/UAS use’ for more info. Depending on the nature of your request you may be required to pay a location fee which will be advised in advance and invoiced.

Our decision will take into consideration any disturbance, annoyance, harassment or distress which may be caused to site users and wildlife.

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