New Forest - permission for drone flying

New Forest - permission for drone flying

Updated 27th October 2021

Drone flying in the New Forest

Like many other organisations we believe that recreational use of drones at our sites is incompatible with the vast majority of our visitorsꞌ expectations for peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the forest and their personal privacy.

As a highly protected landscape we also must consider their impact on sensitive wildlife habitats and free roaming livestock.

Limited Use

Permission to operate a drone on New Forest Crown lands managed by Forestry England can only be permitted in very limited circumstances - for the purposes of documentary filming, operational and scientific/research. Where granted, permissions may be issued with specific limitations and guidance on use if appropriate.

Drone flying is not permitted for any purpose (including those set out above) during the ground nesting bird season which runs from 1 February until 31st August each year.

Successful applicants must be able to show evidence of a CAA licence and appropriate public liability insurance.

To apply for a permit and find out more about the costs involved please complete an application form or email full details of what your request contact details (including phone number and postal address) to: or please contact us on 0300 067 46

Current restrictions - Forestry England byelaws

Byelaws, set out in the Forestry Act 1967 and subsequent updates, apply to the land we manage as Forestry England.  These byelaws specifically mention in Section 5 “Prohibited Acts Within Byelaws” paragraph xxiii that you cannot “operate any aircraft, glider, hot air balloon, boat, raft or craft of any kind, or any model aircraft, boat or car.”

We believe it is fair to interpret ‘aircraft’ in its more modern identity of small, unmanned aircraft (SUA), therefore, include the category of SUA's that are now commonly identified as drones.

In addition, many drones have cameras attached and these could infringe data protection laws (filming people without permission) and breach the Forestry Commission’s rules on commercial photography and filming.

More information can be found here:


Further Guidance

Drone use is growing rapidly in the UK and it has become easier and cheaper for the public to buy and use drones with considerable power, battery life and camera resolution. The Civil Aviation Authority has published information on how users can fly their drones safely and legally without endangering others. More information can be found at:

Anyone concerned about the use of a drone can report the incident to the local police and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Concerns about a possible breach of privacy should be directed by the person affected to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).