Questions have been asked concerning the dangers of drones flying over Hunterston Power Station, during a recent nuclear liaison meeting.

With the growing popularity of drones - radio controlled flying devices which can carry cameras and take photographs and videos from the air - questions have been asked in relation to safety near nuclear sites. West Kilbride community councillor John Lamb was curious to know what the rules and regulations were in terms of the EDF owned site.

There is an exclusion zone for manned aircraft surrounding Hunterston which resulted in the Red Arrows having to cancel a Viking Festival air show two years ago in the district.

And during the recent Hunterston site stakeholders meeting held at the Lauriston Hotel in Ardrossan. councillor Lamb asked EDF officials what the position was in terms of flying a drone about the power plant.

Speaking to the ‘News’, Mr Lamb said: “I know a resident in West Kilbride who was going to get a drone and all the legal paperwork etc. and was keen to know. If you are using a drone commercialy, then you need a pilot’s licence. There was an article last month which stated that the French government are taking a very hard line on it when it comes to EDF stations in France so I wondered what the situation was for Hunterston.” “If you go on Google Earth, you will find that most nuclear sites are blanked off for security reasons. If you are wanting to take pictures using a drone, even within the vicinity, how close can you go? There is nothing on the ONR (Office of Nuclear Regulation) website, and there is this no fly zone for manned aircraft.

“You can go online and buy any drone - there is no restriction on sale. THey bigger they are though they have to comply with civil aviation authority guidelines and obtain a pilot’s licence.” A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “The airspace above nuclear power stations is restricted air space under 2000 feet, and it is equally the same for unmanned aircraft such as drones and they are not allowed to fly in that airspace either. The airspace extends to a kilometre around the core of the facility. The main thing is the height restriction.

“We prosecuted someone in April in an incident which we believe to be the first incident of its kind of a drone flying over a nuclear submarine base in Cumbria - it was a homemade drone with fixed wing and camera.

“There are genearl rules in palce in terms of flying into airspace, in terms of buildings, structures and vehicles, and it is important that the likes of drones are in your line of sight at all times - it is measured at around 400 feet vertically and 500 feet horizantally, to effectively controal beyond that distance is not reliable.”