Environmental Enforcement: How can Drones Help?

Drone shot of area with environmental waste and abandoned lorries.

Eagle Eye Innovations (EEI) recently supported the UK Environment Agency by providing a capability demonstration using cutting-edge RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) technology during an enforcement operation, reinforcing the Environment Agency’s commitment to protect the environment and ensure compliance with local environmental regulations. This ground-breaking initiative demonstrated the transformative capabilities of RPAS technology in enhancing enforcement efforts, safeguarding the nation’s natural resources, and in improving processes within the UK Environment Agency and their ability to respond swiftly to environmental challenges. 

Over the course of the demonstration, the EEI RPAS team, equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and monitoring systems, played a pivotal role in identifying and documenting potential environmental infringements. With their ability to access remote and challenging areas, the RPAS team captured high-resolution imagery and collected real-time data, enabling the UK Environment Agency to assess compliance with environmental legislation quickly and efficiently through comprehensive aerial surveys of hard-to-reach locations. The drone operators flew at varying altitudes, collecting data on key environmental parameters. 

“This enforcement operation marks a significant milestone for the UK Environment Agency and highlights their dedication to upholding environmental standards,” stated Ian Galloway MBE, EEI Drone Operator,  “The integration of this technology can revolutionise their enforcement capabilities, providing them with a valuable tool to detect, monitor, and combat environmental violations more effectively.” The drone was operated by highly trained pilot, Matthew Williams, and environmental enforcement specialists, who were deployed to monitor activities that posed potential harm to the environment. The RPAS unit monitored a sensitive area, an industrial site, waterways, and agricultural land, capturing real-time evidence of potential breaches such as illegal waste disposal, and pollution incidents.  

The utilisation of RPAS technology in the enforcement operation was live streamed to an Incident Response Room 45 Kilometres away whilst also conducting an evidence collection process, reducing the time and resources required for traditional on-site inspections. The collected data, including high-resolution imagery and geospatial information, will serve as crucial evidence in investigations and legal proceedings, ensuring robust enforcement action against those responsible for environmental violations. 

Furthermore, the RPAS unit’s advanced surveillance capabilities allowed the Environment Agency to proactively identify emerging environmental risks. By swiftly detecting and responding to incidents of illegal waste dumping, the agency demonstrated its commitment to mitigating the impact on ecosystems, public health, and the overall environment. 

In addition to its monitoring capabilities, RPAS technology also played a vital role in emergency response activities during the operation. The RPAS unit was utilised to identify and assess potential threats to the on-site EA Officers. This information was crucial in enabling the Environment Agency to deploy appropriate resources promptly and address any threat. 

The successful implementation of RPAS technology in this enforcement operation underscores its potential to revolutionise environmental monitoring and enforcement practices. The Environment Agency remains committed to exploring further applications of this technology, continually enhancing its enforcement capabilities to safeguard the environment and ensure a sustainable future for all. 

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