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Former police chief calls for drone ban near Heathrow in House of Lords after rise in near misses

According to the UK Airprox Board, there were 70 near misses involving drones across the country in 2016, up from just 29 in 2015

There were 70 drone near misses in 2016

A former Metropolitan Police commissioner says drones should be barred from entering controlled airspace around major airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick.

Independent crossbencher Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington told the House of Lords on Tuesday (February 28) there was an answer to the problem of near-misses with commercial aircraft at the major airports.

During question time, he said nobody could go into controlled airspace without authority and added: "Surely a quick answer is to prohibit any drones in that area."

Lord Stevens, who is president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association UK and holds a pilot's licence, said he had flown himself "safely down" to London earlier that day.

Transport minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the Civil Aviation Authority had a "specific regime" around the commercial operation of drones.

As peers pushed for greater controls on drones, he added:"We are looking at those particular regulations to see how they may be extended."

Passenger plane avoids disaster after 'very near miss' with drone as it flew near The Shard on Heathrow Airport descent

Last year, Virendra Sharma , the Member of Parliament for Ealing , Southall , called on the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to help improve the safety of the devices to prevent near misses and potential risk to live.

Last year a plane had a near miss with a drone near The Shard

According to the UK Airprox Board, there were 70 near misses involving drones across the country in 2016, up from just 29 in 2015.

The government is currently undertaking a consultation exercise on drone regulation and Lord Ahmad said cross-government work had achieved progress in a number of areas.

Football sized drone put passengers lives at 'serious degree of risk' after near miss with Airbus on Heathrow descent

These included trials to explore options for detecting and countering drones and an expanded campaign to raise awareness of safety rules.

Tory Lord Naseby said the threat of terrorism and the misuse of drones had "heightened" over the past year and called for strict laws that consumers could understand.

Independent crossbencher Lord Hylton called for "total exclusion zones" for drones around flight paths at major airports to prevent a collision.

MP Virendra Sharma called on improvements to be made with the safety of drones

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Lord Ahmad said the government was looking at the issues of geofencing around critical sites such as airports.

"There were 70 reported incidents in 2016 and those are 70 too many," he said.

"It's important that, as technology advances, we look at more rapid and rigid enforcement of geofencing."

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