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11 September 2018

A campaign to keep Kinderdijk drone-free

No drone zone! This is the core message of the awareness campaign set for launch today. The goal is to (further) reduce the number of drone flights carried out in Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage airspace

The drone awareness campaign was initiated by the Molenwaard and Alblasserdam municipal authorities. Throughout Kinderdijk, signs and stickers warn visitors that airborne cameras are unwanted in the windmill area. Over the past few years, drones have become increasingly popular. As a consequence, picturesque Kinderdijk has become an attractive site for drone flight photography, resulting in a near-constant buzz of drones humming around the windmills.

Drones hovering over the mills have become a source of ongoing frustration.

Drones hovering over the mills have become a source of ongoing frustration.

In Kinderdijk, drone operators usually don’t realise that our windmills are inhabited by real people; people who consider the intrusion of cameras hovering overhead a nuisance. Ever since last year, windmill occupants have been taking action to reduce the nuisance and the violation of their privacy. Using signs, social media, and other channels, this new campaign is intended to show Kinderdijk World Heritage visitors just what sort of impact these drones have on the everyday life and privacy of windmill residents.

Drone operators often don’t realise that real people live in these mills

At present, drone pilots can be fined by mandate of local Molenwaard Municpality legislation, provided that they have demonstrably caused a nuisance and get caught in the act. Police officers and non-police security staff have stepped up surveillance of drone use over the windmill area, and the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK) actively responds to any nuisance notifications.

The awareness campaign was initiated by the Molenwaard and Alblasserwaard municipalities

The awareness campaign was initiated by the Molenwaard and Alblasserwaard municipalities

Even though local authorities do have options to take action against bothersome drone users, present national and local legislation provides insufficient room for banning drones from Kinderdijk World Heritage altogether. That is why the Molenwaard authorities addressed the Ministries of Infrastructure, Environment, and Justice and Security this May, asking for amendments to current regulations governing the use of drones. The Ministries have pledged to take privacy and public order and safety into account in compiling Dutch legislation when the European Drone Directive comes into force. Until now, airspace and aviation safety has been the primary concern in these matters. Within two years from now, the matter should be clarified, but until that time, our new awareness campaign should help safeguard the privacy and wellbeing of our windmill residents.

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