Drone trackers to protect oil rigs and nuclear plants from attack

By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor



Daily Telegraph



DRONE detectors are to be deployed around nuclear plants, transport hubs, oil rigs and other sensitive infrastructure to protect them from aerial attacks under an £8million Home Office project. The counter-drone technology will also be deployed at forthcoming major public events such as the Coronation of King Charles and the Eurovision song contest. The systems will be designed to enable the police and security services to track any small or medium-sized drone even if they do not emit a signal. About 1,000 flights, affecting 140,000 passengers over three days, were disrupted when an unauthorised drone entered Gatwick’s airspace in January 2019. Major airports have since developed their own detect and destroy technology to counter the threat, but the Government is now seeking to establish similar protections, starting with key national infrastructure sites but eventually encompassing the whole of the UK. Terrorists have so far only deployed drones in war zones although in August 2018 there was an attempt to assassinate Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, with two small drones carrying explosives that were detonated as he delivered an outdoor speech. Beyond counter-terror, officials see the next biggest threat as prisons where there has been a doubling in the detection of drones used by organised gangs in the past year to deliver drugs, phones and weapons into jails. A government spokesman said: “The Home Office works closely with police to ensure they can deter, detect and disrupt the misuse of drones and keep the public safe. “We are empowering the police and other operational responders through access to the latest advances in counter-drone capabilities, training, and appropriate legislative powers. However, it is a long-standing policy that we do not comment on security arrangements.” Anyone with a drone that weighs more than 250g or has a camera fitted to a lighter device has to register it with the Civil Aviation Authority. So far about 300,000 people have signed up for operator IDS. Drones and model aircraft are banned from flying within 150m of built-up areas. They are also restricted from circling airports, nuclear power stations, royal palaces and other strategic sites. Councils and landowners such as the National Trust can also bar their use on their land.