Drone Policy

Several times each year we are asked for permission to fly a drone over High Salvington Windmill. The mill is private property surrounded by residential properties and High Salvington Mill Trust, which leases the property from Worthing Council, has a duty to preserve the historic buildings on the site. This is achieved through the efforts of its entirely volunteer staff as and when they are available. Accordingly, the Trust has a “no drone” policy except in very specific circumstances described below.

The mill is situated in a built up area that makes it generally an unsuitable area to fly a drone. Apart from permission from the Mill Trust to fly over the mill you would need the permission of any private land owner for the drone to take off from their land. Along Furze Road it is a public highway and it is our opinion that the passing traffic means that you could not guarantee safety. We have erected “No Drones” signs at the behest of the mill’s neighbours, and in consultation with local councillors, so it is unlikely you would have their permission to launch from their private driveways or access roads. Assuming that you had a launch site within range and the land owner’s permission to launch a drone, there is no route to fly towards the mill site that does not violate the privacy of the mill’s neighbours or pose a safety risk to a public highway. The pressure from the mill’s neighbours for the signs to be put up is indicative of their strength of feeling about the noise nuisance and violation of their privacy and right to peaceably enjoy their properties.

The mill site contains listed buildings. Even a small drone can cause damage and, in a worse case scenario, make you liable for prosecution. Furthermore, we can have volunteers working on site at any hour of any day. The mills are potentially dangerous industrial machinery, there are potentially dangerous tools on site that might be in use, and, potentially dangerous activities that occasionally need to be undertaken. If a drone flying over the site distracted one of our volunteers or a contractor at a critical time it could lead to a serious injury or lethal accident.

The Mill Trust, therefore, has a no drone policy as its default position unless our volunteers maintaining the mill deem it the most suitable choice for surveying the exterior of the mill, we have the consent of our neighbours and all volunteers know when the drone flight will take place.

The windmill and wind machinery on site have all been restored by local volunteers giving thousands of hours of their time over the last 50 years. Every building on site has been constructed or reconstructed by those same volunteers. On top of any legal liability if you were to injure one of our volunteers, a contractor or member of the public, or, cause damage to the mill site, you would face significant local opprobrium.

It is possible that, for a project of specific merit, with an application that satisfied the Board’s concerns that all risks to buildings and people had been mitigated, and satisfied all the mill’s neighbours’ concerns, the Board might consent to a drone flight. If you have such a project in mind then please send your written application to the Mill Trust at its registered address. Your application should list all failure modes and the mitigations you would have in place plus you would need to be suitably insured against damage to people or property.

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