The Sky is the Limit

By Amruta Purohit

England has introduced drones to check planning applications.

Image source: The Urban Developer
While drone use is not a new concept, a survey found that almost a dozen councils are now using or hiring drones for various purposes, for example, where access is difficult or hazardous, there is a need for inspections of high buildings, bridges, dangerous structures and coastal erosions. Further, Epping Forest and Moray Council are going a step further and will be send drones to enforce planning applications and to inspect properties under application review. 

Moray Council have used drones in past, in open farmlands and construction sites, but not near residential areas. However, after testing and seeing the benefits they make in the overall planning process, they are looking to introduce the use into residential areas as well as for seeking site consent with developments like windfarm applications. Council is in the process of preparing process and policy guidelines as well as training their operators and acquiring licenses to ensure safety and privacy needs are met.

To ensure residents are aware of the use of drones, the Council will notify them at the same time as they are informed about the planning applications. Council feels that residents are more relaxed about aerial views, however, some residents raise concern about its overuse without having a clear purpose and justification around data protection safeguards. Epping Forest Council has indicated that drones will be used by both the Planning Enforcement and Emergency Planning departments.

In other parts of the world, drone use is becoming increasingly popular to complete aerial inspections, to detect illegal extensions and construction, mapping and surveying and site surveillance.  

Drone use is increasing in use worldwide. Do you see it integrating with planning in Australia in the next five years? We are interested in your thoughts.


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