The use of drones at Knole

The outside of Knole, Kent

The use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or drones as they are more commonly known, is not permitted on or over National Trust land, as part of our byelaws, without the necessary required qualifications and a licence granted by us. Find out more here.

Why we don’t allow drones to fly at Knole

The use of drones is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and it is a developing area which is coming under greater scrutiny. Few non-commercial users have the correct training or permission to operate drones, which creates a serious risk to our staff, volunteers, visitors, property and wildlife. We have therefore adopted a strict blanket policy banning the use of drones at our sites.

  • The use of aerial vehicles is also prohibited by the Trust “byelaws”. The byelaws reflect the charitable core purposes of the Trust to enable us to preserve special places for the nation.
  • Should a drone cause damage or harm, pilots generally do not have the correct insurances to compensate the Trust for remedial actions.
  • Drones should not be flown over people; as much of our land is open access we cannot guarantee an area, even if remote, is completely empty.
  • Drones should not be flown near property; the special nature of our properties makes the risk of damage more severe. In some cases, and at Knole, properties are privately occupied.
  • The parkland at Knole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Much of the wildlife use our sites for breeding and are sensitive to disturbance and some species are given additional protection that can result in prosecution if photographed in certain situations. Many birds see drones as a threat and may abandon nests and the wild deer herd at Knole would be disturbed by them.
  • Many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and potentially could contravene National Trust rules on photography and filming.
  • The presence of drones can be detrimental to the enjoyment of our sites by other visitors.
  • The parkland at Knole is jointly owned and managed by the Sackville family’s Knole Estate. Together with the National Trust they do not permit the use of drones over their land.
  • We therefore do not allow drone flying from or over National Trust land. The only exception being contractors or staff who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have specific insurances and have been commissioned or authorised by the Trust for a specific purpose – and in these cases the activity is strictly controlled.
  • The regulatory environment regarding drones is rapidly developing. We will continue to monitor this development and keep our position under constant review.

In addition to this, anyone wishing to carry out commercial activity on National Trust land, such as photography needs to contact us first to obtain permission. Please email us or call 01732 462100.