News is out in the last 24 hours of a new Department for Transport consultation looking at the use of drones and the potential for a driving licence style approach to flying any drone over 250g (basically anything other than a toy).

Current rules differ depending on whether or not the drone in question has a camera and that dual approach has led to some confusion.  What is clear though is the growing concern - notably from the Civil Aviation Authority - about the misuse of drones in certain areas, including near airports.

The CAA has recently launched a new website, dronesafe.uk, which provides guidance to users but the consultation would take it a few steps further - particularly if the proposal to create a criminal offence is adopted.

All of this is clearly indicative of a the size and growth of the drone industry.  Outside of leisure users they already form a core part of emergency services, conservation, energy, transport and maintenance services.

The potential for regulation should not therefore be a surprise, but this is the industry's chance to shape what those controls look like.  As always, the focus will be on balancing public safety and the potential of the industry.