Kap rules in or near London

edited October 2011 in General
Hello (UK?) KAP friends,

Are there any special rules for flying a kite in the UK, especially in or near London? (apart from the normal safety precautions and 60 m height limit)
I might give it a try, but do not want to be arrested....

Thanks for any info!


  • Hans

    I've had no problem flying kites in several parts of outer London (Richmond Green for example) and kite flying is specifically permitted in Hyde Park for example (and I'd guess the other Royal Parks too).

    I've not tried, but I think you'd have problems if you tried to fly anywhere near the Houses of Parliament, or the MI5 and MI6 HQ's (which are also on the Thames just to the west at Millbank and Vauxhall respectively). That probably rules out most of the accessible Thames-side locations in the central area unfortunately.

    Note that London City Airport in Docklands means you're limited to 30m there (and not at all if you're directly East or West of it and within a few miles of it).
  • Dave, presumably 30m applies to Richmond Green too? Looking at the map, Richmond appears as close or perhaps closer to Heathrow then central London (say Temple area) does to the Docklands city airport!

    From a common sense perspective, it would seem that sticking to the 30m limit in central London is overkill given the height of some of the buildings in the area.
  • edited October 2011
    I've certainly flown above 30m at Richmond (though not above 60m). The fact that it's more or less on the flightpath to Heathrow means that the only air traffic is made up of planes coming in to land and they are still well above 1500' when they fly over Richmond (which is roughly 6 miles from Heathrow) - they've only just put their gear down. The route they take is highly predictable (it depends on which runway they are using and wind direction) - they rarely fly directly over Richmond Green (usually somewhat to the north - over Kew Gardens).

    As for central London - there's quite a bit of low-flying helicopter traffic - police mainly I think - they fly below the tallest buildings.
  • AFAIK you can request permission to fly your kite higher than 60m. I believe I've flown my kite higher than 60m, and near London international airport - but the people involved with the project asked the airport (and perhaps other authorities) for clearance. Of course, the permission was for a specific day and time, so this might only be useful if you can really plan ahead...

    IIRC, there are some info about this in other threads as well.
  • Ricardo is right, you can ask the Civil Aviation Authority for permission to fly higher - you have to give 28 days notice (which is what the big kite festivals do) and you won't always get it (particularly if there's a military base which has helicopters stationed nearby since they take off at all angles). You can download the form from Toadstone's page here.
  • The main issue in central London is not the City Airport at Docklands but Battersea Heliport or the London Heliport as it now known. All helicopter traffic in and out of the City travel along the Thames. If you go to this page on the Heliport site you can download the helicopter routes and the helicopter ATZ. London Heliport

    As Dave has pointed out some traffic, mainly emergency & law enforcement, fly below minimum height rules, so its really keeping to the rules yourself and trying to keep an eye out for such traffic. I've never flown kites in London but have in central Manchester which has a similar set up but is by no means as busy as London.

    Regarding the CAA exemption to fly above legal kite limits. The CAA form does require that the applicant provides some evidence that you have sought permission from the owner on whose land you intend to fly from. Not always an easy task. It also requests a map of the area, Ordnance Survey are the favourite here. Failure to provide such information may not prohibit a license being granted but it may delay or create the need for extra information to be supplied. If you have a license granted then you will need to communicate with the relevant local ATC authority, usually a mobile phone is acceptable for this purpose.

    Good luck and let us now how you get on.

  • Thanks for your reactions, much appreciated!
  • Hans, Maybe you could KAP directly over Big Ben, and tell anyone who asks that you are doing a study to see how far it has tilted.


    p.s. probably have to get some official looking stuff, lab coat, hard hat and a clipboard.
  • Well today I was busted in Regents Park by armed police.

    I exaggerate slightly, he was unarmed and quite friendly but told me in no uncertain terms that flying kites is not allowed in any of London's Royal Parks.

    I was surprised because I had tried my best to find out if there were any laws regarding kite flying and all I could find was the 30/60m rule. A bit more googling just now & I found this on the Legislation.gov.uk website:

    Acts prohibited in a Park

    (13) in contravention of a notice exhibited by order of the Secretary of State, or after having been required by a constable not to do so
  • Hi Johnny. I think the police misinformed you slightly. In general kite flying is allowed in London's Royal Parks, but if a policeman tells you not to, you have to obey (that's essentially what that para (13) says. If you google "kites" "hyde park" you'll find plenty of references.

    As a matter of fact, one of my (rejected) entries for the Nokia PUSH N8 competition was to KAP a triathlon event in Hyde Park (the 2012 Olympic Triathlon will be held there) and I carefully checked that kite flying was permissible there.
  • @JohnnyM

    The legislation you are referring to answers your question, sort of. 13 is really saying if a notice is displayed or a Constable tells you not to fly a kite then you must abide by that. However there are Parks in London that do allow kite flying and here is a link to a website that confirms that. The Royal Parks are near so called sensitive areas so its hardly surprising that the Police would ask you to refrain from kite activity.
    Kite Flying in London

  • Well this settles it :(

    Thank you for your email regarding kite flying in The Royal Parks. Unfortunately, The Royal Parks does not allow any kite flying whatsoever, due to the high levels of use of the parks and the number of trees. There are public safety concerns, as well as risk to wildlife, with a kite in such a busy urban park and we also have to retrieve many kites from trees each year at great expense to us.

    I apologise for any inconvenience caused to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.

    Kind Regards,
  • edited November 2011
    Johnny - who did you email?

    Kite flying is definitely permitted in Richmond Park - see here and here. And this 2010 document about Kensington Gardens specifically mentions kite flying being permissible there.
  • I emailed the contact address on the royal parks website which it seems put me through to Cheryl Morgan HQ Receptionist @royalparks.gsi.gov.uk.
    Next time I'll head to Kensington Gdns & print off the bit that refers to kites & see if they say anything.

    It clearly states:
    1.5 Kensington Gardens covers some 98 Hectares (242 acres). The gardens are mainly
    used for passive recreation including, walking, jogging, entertaining children,
    rollerblading, kite flying and model boating.

    Richmond has designated zones which probably means it's not allowed in the rest of the park..
  • edited November 2011
    you can also fly on Wimbledon Common, there is a nice area south-east of the windmill. But don't fly over the horse tracks (I was told).
  • Blackheath is fine, Hackney marshes is fine (where the London Kite festival used to be held), Primrose Hill is good, I think Parliament hill is also ok
  • @JohnnyM
    Have you tried Hyde Park yet?
    I finally got around to visiting it yesterday afternoon and looks ideal for some winter KAP action, especially with some zoom bracketing scripts in operation!
  • Admittedly as an American fan of minimal bureaucratic intrusion, I believe the heli's should get permission to fly from the KAPers.
    Ah, but with so many helicopters, the KAPer would have no time remaining to fly his/her kite.
  • Having seen the carnage of the Vauxhall crash I'm keeping well clear! I believe ATC are aware of popular kite flying locations in London but I'd like to have positive knowledge of helicopter pilot awareness of this. It's a great shame to think KAP off the bridges isn't possible!
  • edited January 2013
    In case any of our friends world wide have not seen the Vauxhall heli crash, here is a newslink.

  • edited January 2013
    Sad in so many ways.

    Do you suppose it is possible to suggest that KAP be allowed perhaps if a strobe of sufficient brightness is applied just below the kite, especially in the special case of flying from bridges? One comment mentioned a beacon missing (?) from the impacted crane.

    It may be difficult with layers of hierarchy to go through in order to table such a suggestion, but after all the decision makers are just human, yes? Maybe they can accommodate a special exception?
  • Helicopters like to follow waterways. Fewer obstructions. Power lines and pylons are mapped and have warning beacons and markers. A movable hazard, such as a kite on a flyway if it is commonly used for helicopter flights would be a tough sell to aviation authorities.
  • edited January 2013
    The NOTAM covering the crane in question advised pilots it was NOT lit:

    "L0468/13: London Heliport: Obstacle erected
    Q) EGTT/QOBCE/IV/M/AE/000/008/5129N00008W001

    12-10-0429/AS 2.

    FROM: 21 Jan 2013 15:20 GMT TO: 21 Apr 2013 22:59 GMT (23:59 BST)"

    The problem for KAP is one of clarity.

    If I have got it right then kites should be flown no higher than 30m or 100feet in the London Heathrow and London City CTRs (controlled airspaces). Twin engine helicopters are given permission to fly from SFC (surface) up to 2,500feet or 830m anywhere in the CTRs and single engined routed through the paths shown on the map: image
    Most of the popular kite flying spots are covered by the zones and a few are crossed by the heli routes.

  • The question of the beacon on the crane was put to a helicopter pilot being interviewed on the news. He said that given the low cloud whether it was lit or not it would have made no difference.
  • edited January 2013
    I have asked the UK CAA for clarification on safe flying of kites in the London area, particularly the popular spots of Parliament Hill, Blackheath, Wimbledon Common, Richmond park, Hyde Park etc. There is some confusion over regulations pertaining to AFZ and CTR in London as they overlap. Unusually for UK airspace there are special rules for helicopters in London and what this means for kite flying ought to be made clear.

  • The fact that this thread continually expands over time suggests that flying in central London is a headache barely worth suffering. KAP ninja is called for I think.
    It's nearly a year since my brief visit to Hyde Park but I still think that presents the best/closest opportunity for pictures of the 'central' area.
    Tricky one.
  • edited January 2013
    Hm... 'KAP ninja': I can just imagine explaining that to the constabulary!
  • And CAA clarification came today:


    Further to this morning’s e-mail correspondence, I can confirm that you are able to operate kite/s without CAA permission/exemption up to a height of 60m above ground level at all the locations on your list,

    Wimbledon common

    Parliament Hill


    Bushey Park

    Richmond Park

    Mitcham Common

    Clissold Park

    Finsbury Park

    Osterly Park

    Lea Valley Park

    Mile End Park

    except for the following:

    • Kensington Gardens / Green Park / Hyde Park – within the Hyde Park Restricted Area (known as EG R157), therefore, a CAA exemption may be required. Please provide me with details of the specific locations within each Park, preferred heights, dates and times, so that further assessment can take place.

    • The Millennium Bridge – within the City of London Restricted Area (known as EG R158), therefore, a CAA exemption may be required. Similar to the above, please provide me with details of the specific location/s where the kite/s would be sited, preferred heights, dates and times, so that further assessment can take place.

    • Thames Chase Community Forest – this site is on the edge of the Damyns Hall Aerodrome Traffic Zone, which may be activated at certain times. Therefore, a height limitation of 30m above ground level would apply.

    If you have a requirement to operate above the 60m height thresholds at any of the other locations on your list, you are welcome to apply for CAA permission. Please let me know and I will e-mail the relevant application form to you.

    Please can I take this opportunity to remind you that permission should be sought from the landowner/s at all locations.

    I hope this helps. Please contact me if you have any further questions.
    David Miller
    Airspace Specialist 5 (AS5)
    Airspace Utilisation (AU)
    Directorate of Airspace Policy (DAP)
    Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) '
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