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Drone ban at German castles and palaces

German castles have started banning drones from their grounds, claiming they are a nuisance to tourists and threaten public safety.

Drone ban at German castles and palaces
Photo: DPA

Apparently cameras and selfie sticks aren’t enough for some visitors to Germany’s most iconic spots. The truly demanding want a bird’s eye view of the entire place and are using drones to get it.

“We’ve noticed there are ever more,” said Wilhelm Schulte, director of Nordkirchen Palace in Münsterland. At first it was mainly film and engineering students. “We’ve been receiving ever more requests from hobby pilots in more recent times.”

Now one of Germany’s most famous landmarks, Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam – known as the Versailles of Westphalia – has banned the unmanned aircraft altogether, following in the footsteps of palaces in other parts of the country.

The Foundation for Prussian Palaces and the Gardens of Berlin & Brandenburg decided to take the measure after a drone crashed on their premises. While no one was injured, the Foundation argued in a statement that drones pose a threat to public safety.

“There are ever more unrequested drone flights on our grounds,” said a spokesperson for the Foundation, adding that the number of requests was also rising.

But the ban is not complete, the Foundation made clear, stating that permission can be given if the drone is being used to film for scientific or journalistic purposes.

Bavaria has also banned drones from flying over important cultural sites, while Saxony is planning a blanket ban.

A speaker for Saxon Palaces said that the drone flights were often for commercial purposes, explaining “most of these recording are not for private purposes but are meant to be published on the internet.”

“The concern is understandable,” said Elmar Giemulla, air law expert at the Technical University of Berlin (TU). “It’s proof that the need has arisen for politicians to set out a legal framework.”

It is not altogether clear whether Sanssouci is even allowed to ban drones, the TU expert added..

“The airspace does not belong to the property owner. But when the building or people are put at risk by the drones then the property owner has the right to ban flights,” explained Giemulla.

But even this only applies to planes which fly at the height of the building. For planes flying above the roof, state flight control authorities set permissions.

But it seems that not all heritage sites find themselves threatened by a new wave of unmanned aircraft.

A spokesman for Friedenstein Palace in Gotha said “this is not an issue for us.”

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TRAVEL

‘Close seven airports now’: How environmental group wants to change how Germans fly

A damning new report suggests the German government is propping up inefficient airports with huge subsidies. It proposes a new grid of a small number of airports connected by high-speed trains.

‘Close seven airports now’: How environmental group wants to change how Germans fly
Rostock-Laage airport, where passenger numbers have been dropping. Photo: DPA

Most of us have probably never heard of them, but Kassel-Calden, Rostock-Laage and Niederrhein-Weeze are all airports you can fly from in Germany.

The problem is, hardly anybody ever uses them. Only three planes took off from Kassel-Calden on Wednesday morning. No commercial flights are taking off from Rostock-Laage for the next two days.

These are just some of the 14 regional airports that were analysed by the environmental organisation BUND. Each of the airports serves between 300,000 and 2 million passengers annually.

MUST READ: 'Flying is too cheap' – Germany considers higher flight tax

The report found that seven of the airports were of no use in terms of connecting local populations to hub airports and should be closed immediately. 

An analysis of the flight plans of the airports found that they rarely connected to hubs, instead flying to holiday destinations in Egypt, Spain and other warmer destinations.

All but two of the airports should be closed down in the medium term, the report concluded.

It also found that the airports had been propped up with €200 million in subsidies over the past four years.

“We are demanding a stop for all subsidies and tax rebates for regional airports in Germany and the EU,” said BUND chairman Olaf Bandt.

BUND proposed instead that Germany reduce its number of airports to just eight large hub airports, all of which would be connected to the national rail network with high speed connections. 

The proposal would see Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn, both at least partially owned by the state, working together on creating an efficient network of rail and air connections.

The Association of German Airports, ADV, rejected the report's findings, saying that regional airports contribute to local economies while providing ways for migrant populations to travel home in the summer.

The financing of regional airports in Germany is in line with European law and the objectives of the EU White Paper 'Roadmap to a Single European Sky European transport area'”, the ADV said.

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