ENTHUSIASTS flying drones or using metal detectors as a hobby will be banned from some open spaces in the Ribble Valley, under new rules being recommended to councillors.

Fears of injury-related insurance claims from people accidentally hit by drones or park runners hurt by stumbling into holes dug by treasure hunters have prompted a review of rules to control activities in public open spaces owned by Ribble Valley Council.

Sites include Clitheroe Castle grounds and bandstand, Brungerley Park, Edisford river bank, Kestor Lane, John Smith’s Park in Longridge, council-owned football pitches and play areas.

Councillors on the borough’s community services committee are being recommended by officers to consider new bans and rules.

Special permission would be given to professionals using drone camera equipment, such as TV crews, builders or engineers who inspect high structures, or formal archaeological digs using metal detectors. But in general, amateur enthusiasts face a ban.

A report by borough officers says current rules on open spaces are outdated and inconsistent.

It states: “Open spaces are covered by the council’s public liability insurance. For claims against the council, negligence must be proved by the claimant. All cases are investigated by our insurers. In an average year, we receive several insurance claims from the public using our land.”

It adds: “The principal issues with these types of activities is the impact they may have on other users of open spaces.  For example, metal detecting  is often carried out by responsible people. But it can result in depressions in the land and, in the worst case, holes. This, in turn, presents a risk to other users.

“Drone users ought to be covered by Civil Aviation Authority regulations and have their own insurance, but not all will.”

In addition, personal trainers working in the parks or play areas will need a permit to do so.

It adds: “Personal trainers typically receive fees (from customers) for their services but other users of open spaces in a similar (commercial) situation are asked to pay a fee for using the space.”

However, the report also states that when the council does formally give permission for specific activities, this then places some responsibility on the council if a problem arises. So the council also enters into a contract with the organiser to deal with any potential issues.

It states: “For activities such as Park Run, we have given our permission and support because it offers considerable community benefit. For other events, such as fun fairs or concerts at the bandstand, we either have a charge or accept some responsibility for the wider community benefit.

“Whilst the council has no wish to stop people using the open spaces for legal activities, the issue is their potential impact on the council’s liability as the landowner. The informal arrangement which has been in place to date does need to be formalised to prevent any future issues with requests.

“For areas such as the castle grounds, which has special status, permission for any metal detecting would only be granted for a specific archaeological project.”

Councillors are being recommended to approve the bans on drones from flying over council-owned land. 

The report adds: “Many of our sites are close to other properties and granting permission may cause disturbance, annoyance or harassment to those occupants or the users of public open space. The implementation of these arrangements will assist in limiting this risk.”

Councillors will look at the plans on Tuesday, January 11.