Britain will extend a drone exclusion zone fivefold and give police new powers against lawbreaking operators, Government said, after sightings last month paralysed the nation’s second busiest airport.
The changes announced in parliament by transport minister Chris Grayling followed pre-Christmas disruption at Gatwick airport where drone flyovers saw a thousand flight cancellations affect 140,000 passengers.
The military was called in to help.
“The disruption caused by drones to flights at Gatwick airport last month was deliberate, irresponsible and calculated as well as illegal,” Grayling told parliament.
The Ministry of Defence remained on standby to deal with further problems at Gatwick or other airports, he added.
Government said the drone exclusion zone around airports would be extended to 5 km “” with additional extensions at runway ends “” from the current kilometre.
Grayling said government would begin testing counter-drone technology as part of its response to a consultation started before December’s disruption.