Drone crackdown

FREMANTLE council is poised to crack down on drones, bikes, skateboards and rollerblades at Monument Hill.

Last week the council’s policy and legislation committee approved a plan to force drone users to obtain a permit before flying over the monument, noting the site is specifically set aside for remembrance and quiet solitude.

Skateboarders and bike riders would be forbidden from going on the hill’s monuments or their bases; particularly because of the damage their “grinding” can cause to concrete steps.

Sydney council has fought a decades-long battle against skaters on its Anzac War Memorial and Pool of Reflection. Its rangers can fine the skaters $110 if they stray too close and have been known to chase and tackle them to get the point across.

Former council candidate Claudia Green lives opposite the reserve and sparked the current review after what she says has been pretty thoughtless behaviour by drone operators and others trying out their super-fast remote-controlled cars for the first time.

Tangled

Ms Green told the Herald an elderly woman was almost knocked off her feet recently when the three small dogs she was walking reacted to a noisy remote-controlled car that strayed too close and tangled her legs in their leads.

With a view that takes in the whole park and having seen many near misses, she says its also miraculous some nitwit with a new drone hasn’t hospitalised any of the park’s picnickers.

Ms Green praised councillor Andrew Sullivan’s involvement in beefing up the local law after she took him for a tour of the hill.

Council staff initially recommended only the permits for drones and “other similar remotely piloted devices”, but Cr Sullivan successfully moved to rope in a ban on skaters and rollerbladers from going near the monuments.

A staff report said the plan wan’t to ban drones completely.

“The use of motorised model airplanes, helicopters, drones or other similar remotely piloted devices on or over Monument Hill may be useful or necessary for photography or filming purposed and the City wants to be able to accommodate these uses by permitting the activity by qualified and conscientious pilots, during periods of time considered appropriate by the City,” the report said.

The council was itself in hot water in 2018 when it hired a drone operator to cover the Anzac Day dawn service on the hill; its buzzing interrupted the respectful silences and angered many in the crowd.

A spokesperson for the council said remote-controlled cars weren’t covered by the proposed bylaw, but could be if it came up during public consultation.

By STEVE GRANT

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