The UK Government is set to pass new legislation next month that will extend the ‘no-fly zone’ for drones and model aircraft around the UK airports to about 5km of runways.

The government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) aim to avoid re-occurrence of security breach recently committed by illegal drones flying near Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport.

Once the rule becomes effective from 13 March, those violating the ‘no-fly zone’ will face a prison sentence of up to five years.

Operators will have to obtain a permit from the government before flying any drones in the restricted area, according to the CAA.

“Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally.”

Work is also under progress for a new Drones Bill, which will be introduced in the future. It will empower police officers to stop and search people suspected of using drones above 400ft or within 5km of an airport.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.

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“We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place. Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Extending stop and search to include drones will help police tackle disruption like the recent misery we saw at UK airports when travel was ruined for thousands of innocent passengers, and bring those responsible to justice.

“Police are clear that stop and search is one of the most powerful tools they have to target and disrupt crime and I remain committed to giving them all the support they need to protect the public.”

The government and the CAA have teamed up with retailer Jessops to make people aware of safely flying drones.