Drone pilots putting power supply at risk

There are fears inexperienced drone pilots could disrupt electricity supply.
There are fears inexperienced drone pilots could disrupt electricity supply.

Toy drones and model helicopters given as Christmas presents could hit power lines causing power cuts and disrupt the electricity network.

As sales of these popular toys have increased in recent months and especially in the run-up to Christmas, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD), which operates the network, has warned owners to steer a course away from its substations and overhead lines.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, drones should not be flown within 150 metres of a built-up area.

But the increasing affordability of small drones, which can cost as little as £50, has led to fears that inexperienced and unqualified operators could accidentally damage vital infrastructure.

Some of the drones on the market can fly at heights of up to 2.000 feet.

Rodney Grubb, SHEPD’s head of operations, said: “The model planes and drones that are on the market nowadays are really powerful and can fly really fast and high.

“If one of them strikes a power line or crashes into a substation, it can potentially damage an important piece of equipment and cause a power cut, or even serious injury to the pilot.

“If you’ve been given a drone or a model helicopter for Christmas, we want you to enjoy it in a safe environment where there is no risk of hitting power lines or substations.”

If a model aircraft or drone does fall into a substation, SHEPD is urging people not to go in after it as there is a risk of a potentially fatal electric shock.

The network operator is instead asking people to contact its emergency service centre on 0800 300 999.