Skip to content

Flying drones at our places

A drone pilot flying a drone over the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, with countryside visible in the background and blue skies above.
Flying a drone at Cerne Abbas | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

As a landowner, the National Trust does not permit drone operation from any of our land and properties.

The National Trust does regularly make use of drones for survey, inspection, filming and photography. Such work is commissioned in response to a specific need and undertaken for us by professional contractors.

We may also grant permission for drone-related commercial filming by established professional production companies in certain circumstances.

Drone flying by members or by the general public

We do not grant permission for private flying from our land and properties for the following reasons:

  • Our members and visitors value the peace and tranquillity of our places. The presence of drones can impinge on the quiet enjoyment of our places by other visitors and therefore potentially presents a public nuisance risk.
  • Many of our places have wildlife or agricultural animals which are sensitive to disturbance, such as birds and deer herds, which could be alarmed or stressed by the presence of drones, especially at breeding times.
  • Many of our places are the homes of our tenants or donor families. We respect and value their privacy and drone use would be an infringement of that privacy.
  • Most drones have cameras attached the use of which could contravene National Trust rules on commercial photography and filming.
  • If a drone causes damage or harm, pilots who are members of the general public rarely have the correct insurances, or level of insurances, to adequately compensate those affected.

Flying by contractors

We do make use of drones if there is a benefit in doing so. Such occasions could include roof inspections or wildlife surveys. However, in such cases we will specifically commission the work from carefully selected professional contractors. In these circumstances we are able to check the competence, qualification and certification of the contractor, stipulate appropriate levels of insurance and set up appropriate conditions and controls on work to ensure public safety, resident privacy and minimise disturbance to wildlife.

We do not respond to cold calling from contractors seeking to sell drone related services.

Commercial Filming

We may grant permission for drone-related commercial filming in certain circumstances. In general terms the production company must follow the same competency and insurance rules as those required for contractors. In addition, the filming must be commercial in nature and agreed with our filming office.

The applications that we may consider are those that come from recognised production companies who are using drone footage as part of a wider production which will also include filming on the ground with actors and presenters.

Contractually the footage can only be used for the named project and further use including image libraries is prohibited.

We will not grant permission to fly for amateur or student filming or approve requests from any fliers who seek permission in return for access and use of the footage obtained.

To find out more about filming at our places, please visit our filming enquiries page.

You might also be interested in

A visitor carrying a backpack and walking along a footpath at Divis and the Black Mountain with stone walls either side, the countryside visible in the background.

Follow the Countryside Code 

Help to look after National Trust places by observing a few simple guidelines during your visit and following the Countryside Code.