Changes to rail electrification plans a ‘slap in face’

train on Tyne Bridge

The railway route between Liverpool and Newcastle may not be fully electrified despite a promise by the previous government.

In 2015, the Department for Transport said electrification of the whole link – which goes through – would be complete by 2022.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has since said electrification will instead be used “where it makes a difference”.

Shadow rail minister Rachael Maskell has called it “a slap in the face”.

Mr Grayling said: “We are not abandoning electrification, what we are doing is using electrification where it makes a difference.

“What we’ve got on the railways is technology we didn’t have five or six years ago.”

He said the use of bi-mode trains, which can travel on both electrified and non-electrified sections of a track, meant there were “places on the network you don’t actually need to start digging everything up and putting in place overhead cables”.

The project to electrify the route was announced in 2011 as part of the then chancellor George Osborne’s ambition to create a northern economic “powerhouse”.

The government said it would deliver .

However, the electrification was when a review into its costs and plans was carried out.

Speaking about this latest development, Ms Maskell said: “This is a slap in the face for the commuters and businesses in the North, including those in my constituency of York Central.

“Just six weeks ago the Tories promised the electrification of the TransPennine route as an integral part of the government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the north had “put up with second-class transport for too long”.

He said the possible changes “would represent a major broken promise… and the derailment of the Northern Powerhouse”.

Mr Grayling’s announcement comes days after the government scrapped the planned electrification of

They included the routes between Cardiff and Swansea; between Windermere and Oxenholme in the Lake District; and between Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing around £40 billion in our network as part of the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to provide faster journeys and more comfortable trains.

“This includes delivering improved journeys for passengers right across the North.”

Brexit: Liam Fox sets election deadline for EU transition

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Fox sets 2022 deadline for EU transition

Any transitional arrangement with the EU after Brexit must end by the time of the next election, Liam Fox has said.

The international trade secretary told the BBC he had no ideological objection to interim arrangements to minimise disruption after the UK’s exit in 2019.

But he said he did not want them to “drag on” beyond the date of the next general election, scheduled for 2022.

The cabinet is said to be united behind a transition although reports it could last four years have been downplayed.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is reported to support a lengthy transitional period to bring certainty to business, which is concerned about the impact on trade and employment of a “cliff-edge” departure.

Newspaper reports on Friday suggested ministers had accepted it could last anywhere between two and four years.

Mr Fox, who is in Washington for discussions on future trade relations with the US, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that it was “perfectly reasonable” for there to be a transition period to ensure the process was as “smooth as possible” for British business and foreign investors.

But he suggested that voters would want any “voluntary” arrangement to end by the time of the next general election, due to take place in May 2022.

And he said he would want the UK to be able to negotiate its own trade deals during that period so it could take “full advantage” of its new status.

“Having waited over 40 years to leave the EU, 24 months would be a rounding error.

“Whether that is 23 or 25 is not a huge deal and neither is it an ideological one.

“It is about the practical issues we would face, such as getting any new immigration system into place, getting any new customs system into place.”

However, he made clear there would have to be clarity not only on the duration of any transitional phase but what limitations it would place on the UK.

Several Conservative MPs have suggested that any deal which required the UK to accept continued free movement for a limited period of time or the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in return for continued temporary membership of the single market would be unacceptable.

Mr Fox added: “I think we would want to get it out of the way before the election.

“I don’t think people would want to have it dragging on. I think we would have to be very clear it was time-limited and limited in its scope.”

“It is imperative that we leave the EU first and that any implementation period is done “voluntarily” alongside the EU to minimise any disruption.”

The head of the powerful trade body representing German car manufacturers has told the BBC there will be a threat to jobs and investment in Britain if the UK leaves both the single market and the customs union.

Matthias Wissman, whose members include Volkswagen, BMW and Porsche, said his preferred option was for the UK to adopt a Norwegian-style membership of the European Economic Area but, failing that, a lengthy transitional period was a bare minimum.

“You need a transition period,” he told Radio 4’s The World This Weekend. “We hope that on the British side that gets deeper and deeper into the intellectual capabilities of those who decide.”

Urging British politicians to put pragmatism ahead of ideology, he said a tariff-free trade deal with the EU was possible but only if “the UK understands what the preconditions are”.

“Any kind of unwise, dramatic changes would have an effect on investment and jobs in the automotive industry. Hard Brexit would mean barriers, control of goods.”

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he accepted the UK would be leaving the single market, as it was in his words “inextricably linked” with EU membership, but suggested he had not reached a final view on whether it would be better to remain within the customs union.

He also suggested future trade deals should be linked to commitments on environmental protection and human rights.

“What is interesting is that the EU has said quite clearly, and rightly in my view, that they would only do new trade agreements with countries that sign up to the Paris climate change accord,” he said.

“The US has said it wants to leave… so it calls into question the whole of the UK government’s strategy on a one-off trade deal with the US.”

FCA’s restated sales show some big swings

DETROIT — A review of restated Fiat Chrysler sales at the model level points to a company that either didn’t accurately know what it was selling month to month or was playing fast and loose with its fleet sales.

In its unprecedented restatement a year ago, which revealed that its then-vaunted streak of year-over-year sales gains actually had ended in 2013, FCA USdownplayed the differences between what it had historically reported as its monthly sales and what a new reporting methodology showed was actually occurring.

To take a deeper look at the figures, the Automotive News Data Center rebuilt the model-level data from the sales totals reported starting in July 2016, comparing figures from the old methodology to the new accounting.

The total cumulative deviations were small — less than 1 percent. But at the model level, which FCA did not disclose at the time, some of the variations were quite large.

For example: FCA and its dealers reported more than 15,000 sales of the Chrysler 200 sedan from July 2015 to June 2016 that the automaker now says didn’t occur. It also originally underreported the sales of almost 6,200 Dodge Grand Caravans and about 5,800 Jeep Compasses — sales that appeared only after the switch to its new reporting methodology.

The three vehicles come from different FCA brands, but they have one thing in common: a high percentage of fleet sales.

A year ago and in subsequent statements, FCA said the new counting method provides “the best available estimate of the number of FCA US vehicles sold to end users through the end of a particular month applying a consistent and transparent methodology.”

Most of the model-level differences between FCA’s originally reported sales totals and its restated sales totals were small, with deviations of less than 1 percent of total sales over the 12-month period for each model. But why was the original reporting for FCA’s three fleet queens — the 200, Grand Caravan and Compass — so far off?

An FCA spokesman declined to comment. But a source within FCA with knowledge of the system told Automotive News the issue had to do with the way FCA used fleet sales to daily rental companies as a type of “slush fund” to hit monthly sales goals.

Daily rental fleet vehicle sales can be booked at any time, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. There was “no need to deliver or invoice” a daily rental fleet vehicle in order for it to be counted as a sale, the source said, so sales to daily rental fleet operators could be reported as needed.

Indeed, in a lengthy note explaining its switch to the new reporting methodology a year ago, FCA admitted that it had been a “historical practice” at the company and its corporate predecessors to maintain a reserve of fleet vehicles “that had been shipped but not been reported as ‘sold’ in the monthly sales reports.”

FCA said that “while the origin of this practice is unclear and is being looked into, FCA US believes that it was probably originally designed to exclude from the reported sales number vehicles that were in transit to fleet customers, as well as vehicles that were not yet deployed in the field.” The company said that the reserve pool ranged in size “and resulted from a subjective assessment at month-end,” though FCA maintained that it had always reported fewer sales than the aggregate number of shipped vehicles.

The company’s new methodology, started in July 2016, reports U.S. sales totals based on dealer-reported sales minus all unwound transactions recorded through the month, retail “other” sales, including those by dealers in Puerto Rico, and fleet sales that are delivered directly by FCA to the customer or end user.

Monthly sales reporting, though traditional in the industry, “obviously is something that is a bit broken,” said Dave Sullivan, senior analyst with AutoPacific. Sullivan says the monthly sales totals are gathered from thousands of sources each month, compiled and reported, and as such have plenty of room for error.

Monthly auto sales are not a useful indicator of a company’s health, he said, because they measure dealer and fleet sales for which the automaker already has been paid.

“Production numbers and days supply are the real indicators of company health,” Sullivan said.

Private-equity firm GPB Capital thrives under the radar

GPB Capital
What: New York private-equity firm

Holdings: Under contract with majority stakes in 66 dealerships

Where: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, California and Pennsylvania

Numbers: $1.2 billion in assets; more than 1,000 investors

M.O.: Requires sellers keep 15-25% stake, stay and run operations

In the past four years, GPB Capital has quietly grown by buying exclusive brand dealerships in small to midsize markets, and larger stores or groups in metro areas.

Today, the New York private-equity group is under contract and owns a majority stake in 66 dealerships selling 25 brands in six states. If it released figures, GPB would rank in the top 10 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealerships groups based in the U.S., based on new-vehicle retail sales, asserted Scott Naugle, GPB’s managing director of automotive strategy.

“In terms of revenue, we’d be right in front of Staluppi, and growing,” he said. Staluppi Auto Group ranks No. 9 with retail sales of 67,731 new vehicles in 2016 and revenue of $3.04 billion.

On June 27, GPB bought a majority stake in nine Kenny Ross Automotive Group dealerships in the Pittsburgh market. Last week, it opened a new Buick-GMC point on Staten Island, N.Y.

“Our philosophy has been stay under the radar, but when people hear ‘private equity [is] buying dealerships,’ they think we have deep pockets, that we will buy anything and we’ll overpay,” Naugle told Automotive News. “We’re very discretionary buyers. We don’t buy turnaround stores. We like to keep the owner involved. We’re at that point where people know who we are, but we want them to understand who we are.”

GPB Capital manages $1.2 billion in assets. Its automotive team has industry veterans including former dealers, whom Naugle declined to name. Naugle, a certified public accountant by trade, spent 20 years with Holman Automotive Group in financial positions. Then he worked at DCH Auto Group as director of corporate finance and accounting for one year before Lithia bought it in 2014.

“We’re not Wall Street people at GPB Automotive. We are retailers,” said Naugle. “That’s our pedigree.”

That helped persuade Jimmy Ross to sell the majority stake of the group his father started in 1954. “They have people familiar with the car business, so they’re easy to talk to and flexible,” said Ross, former chairman of Kenny Ross Auto and now managing member.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But GPB’s deals usually require the seller to retain a 15 to 25 percent stake and keep running the business, Naugle said. The name on the building doesn’t change.

“When we go into these deals, we don’t expect to buy anyone out,” Naugle said. “Our philosophy is they’ve created something special, special enough for us to buy them, so why would we want to get rid of them?”

GPB’s dealerships are concentrated in the New York metro area, including Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru in Orangeburg; Rockville Centre GMC; and Nissan of Garden City. It also owns the FX Caprara group, with seven stores in northern New York state; World Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge-Ram in Shrewsbury, N.J.; and World Subaru in Tinton Falls, N.J., Ron Carter Auto Group in Alvin, Texas, and stores in California, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

GPB Capital
What: New York private-equity firm

Holdings: Under contract with majority stakes in 66 dealerships

Where: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, California and Pennsylvania

Numbers: $1.2 billion in assets; more than 1,000 investors

M.O.: Requires sellers keep 15-25% stake, stay and run operations

Some Dodge dealers give in to Demon temptation

DETROIT — The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s short supply and salivating fans have resulted in five-figure markups from some dealers, despite incentives from Dodge to keep the drag racer at or below its $86,090 sticker price, which includes shipping.

Just 3,000 copies of the single-year, 840-hp Demon will be sold in the United States and another 300 in Canada. Ordering opened last month for the barely street-legal racer, and Dodge told dealers it would give priority production to copies sold at or below sticker price while those with inflated prices would be made later in the production run.

That apparently wasn’t much of a deterrent, because some dealers found a loophole: They’re using intermediaries on eBay to auction off the right to buy one of their Demon allocations. Some buyers are willing to pay $10,000 to $70,000 for the honor of later purchasing a Demon for sticker price. Or dealers are just auctioning off the rights themselves.

On eBay last week, Demon allocations were being auctioned off by three sellers who said they represented dealers in South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana. The minimum bid for the privilege of later paying sticker: $10,000 to $22,500, with time still to go on the auctions.

Previous eBay auctions indicate buyers were willing to pay market adjustments of $20,000 to $75,000 over sticker — though eBay does not indicate whether the transactions agreed to in its successful auctions actually were carried out.

One of the eBay sellers auctioning a Demon allocation last week, reached by Automotive News​ through the auction site, saidhe had only an “outside relationship” with the dealership whose allocation he was trying to sell. He would not give his name. However, he said “there will be somebody directly from the dealership contacting the winning bidder prior to any money being exchanged so that the deal is understood from both sides.”

Other dealers are just ignoring the sticker-price enticement altogether. Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat owner Riley Keep and his father, Shawn Keep, found a dealership in Flagstaff, Ariz., that already had sold one allocation on eBay, Keep said. The store said it could sell the Keeps another, but at a $60,000 charge over sticker price.

“We know some dealers may be tempted to sell to the highest bidder, but we are encouraging them to leverage the Demon as a halo for both the brand and their dealership, to bring customers into their showrooms and see everything we have to offer,” Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis said in a statement in June when he revealed Dodge’s allocation strategy for the Demon.

A source inside Fiat Chrysler said the automaker is “monitoring” dealer actions in selling Demons, but there is little the factory can do beyond encouraging dealers to sell their Demons at sticker price.

Though every dealer who received a Demon allocation likely experienced some level of increased customer activity because of the car — many on forums spoke of calling dozens of dealerships within a few hundred miles searching for allocations — not all Dodge dealers looked to turn that added activity into added profits.

At Bill Marsh Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Traverse City, Mich., the dealership’s single Demon will be sold for $1 under the sticker price, but the right to buy it will be auctioned off among the dealership’s existing customers for the benefit of four local charities, says marketing director Mike Kent.

The auction will be this fall after the White Knuckle-colored $89,062Demon is delivered to the showroom. That price includes shipping. The dealership will bring in a professional auctioneer and plans to make it an event.

The auction solved a conundrum for the no-haggle dealership, Kent says, “which is ‘How do you maintain the integrity of one-price when the value of the car goes beyond its MSRP?’ This gets us beyond that.”

Australian man likely 18th death from faulty Takata airbags

An Australian man who died in a Sydney car crash may be the 18th death linked to faulty Takata airbags, after police said he was killed when hit in the neck by shrapnel from an airbag.

Police did not say the airbag in the Honda CR-V was from manufacturer Takata, whose faulty airbags have been linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

However, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins confirmed on Saturday that the vehicle involved was linked to the worldwide recall.

“The vehicle involved, a 2007 Honda CR-V, was the subject of Takata airbag inflator recalls,” Collins said in a statement, in which he offered the company’s condolences to the family of the dead driver.

“Honda Australia is working closely with authorities to provide whatever assistance is required.”

Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy last month after being forced to recall around 100 million airbags worldwide — but that figure could be set to double pending an ultimatum set by U.S. regulators.

Dozens of models of vehicles and nearly 20 automakers have been affected by the airbag recalls, with Takata’s automaker customers having so far borne much of the estimated $10 billion cost of replacing the faulty products.

Some automakers still use Takata inflators for replacements in the recalls, although some including Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. have said they will stop using Takata inflators for new contracts for future models.

Boots apologises for morning-after pill response

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“Boots spectacularly misjudged public opinion,” says Clare Murphy of the BPAS

Boots has said it is “truly sorry” for its response to calls to cut the cost of one of its morning-after pills.

The pharmaceutical company was criticised after telling the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) it was avoiding “incentivising inappropriate use”.

It now says it is looking for cheaper alternatives to the Levonelle brand.

The firm said it “sincerely” apologised for its “poor choice of words” over the emergency contraception pricing.

The progestogen-based drug Levonelle costs £28.25 in Boots, with a non-branded equivalent priced at £26.75.

The branded drug costs £13.50 at Tesco and a generic version is £13.49 in Superdrug.

Claire Murphy from the BPAS welcomed the move by Boots but said it would keep up the pressure on the chain.

“Women struggle to access emergency contraception and the cost is a key barrier,” she said.

“It’s been wonderful to hear the women, and the men, of this country stand up and really make their voices heard in response to the position Boots originally took.”

But Laura Perrins from the blog Conservative Women said condemning a pharmacy for setting a price on a particular drug was itself a “form of moralising”.

She said Boots should not be forced to reduce the cost, saying Levonelle “is a drug that is unlike others and is a drug that can be given to under-age girls without parental consent”.

The BPAS has lobbied Boots to reduce the cost of the pill to make it more accessible for women having difficulty getting the drug quickly on the NHS.

The service also found the pills can cost up to five times more in the UK than in some parts of Europe.

Previously, Boots had defended its pricing plan for the pill, saying it was often contacted by individuals who criticise the company for providing the service.

It also said it “would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product”.

The response led to some Labour MPs saying Boots had taken an “unacceptable” moral position, while health campaigners talked of a “sexist surcharge”.

The company later issued another statement, stating regret that its previous response had “caused offence and misunderstanding”.

It added: “The pricing of [emergency hormonal contraception] is determined by the cost of the medicine and the cost of the pharmacy consultation.

“We are committed to looking at the sourcing of less expensive EHC medicines, for example generics, to enable us to continue to make a privately-funded EHC service even more accessible in the future.

“In addition the NHS EHC service where it is locally commissioned, is provided for free in over 1,700 of our pharmacies, and we continue to urge the NHS to extend this free service more widely.”

The morning-after pill can be taken in the days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

In England, Levonelle and EllaOne are free of charge from most sexual health clinics, most GP surgeries and most NHS walk-in centres or urgent care centres, but they are free only to women in certain age groups from pharmacies in some parts of the country.

In Scotland and Wales, the emergency contraceptive pill is available free of charge on the NHS from pharmacies, GPs and sexual health clinics.

In Northern Ireland, some pharmacies allow it to be bought on the NHS, and it is available free of charge from sexual health clinics and GPs.

Sandra Gidley, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said the original stance taken by Boots was a “little uncomfortable”.

She said: “They seemed to be saying women would be irresponsible and that can’t be the case because pharmacists have to ask a set number of questions so if women are regularly trying to use the morning after pill as a method of contraception they’re simply not allowed to have it.”

First class could be cut on busy trains, says Grayling

Southeastern train

Train firms could be forced to reduce first class seats on busy commuter lines to ease overcrowding, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

He said people will see “less first class in the future” with busy suburban trains having “one class” instead.

Mr Grayling suggested operators may be forced to scrap first class areas when franchises are awarded in the future.

Rail Delivery Group – which represents train operators – said it would work to increase seat numbers on key lines.

, Mr Grayling said he was “absolutely” committed to scrapping first class carriages on shorter, commuter routes, at busy times of the day, and wanted train operators to take action if passengers demanded it.

“I absolutely understand what a total pain it is if you are standing on a train for 20 to 30 minutes on the way to work,” he told the paper.

“I don’t really see a case for a non-long distance journey for there to be any division between first and second class. There should just be one class on the train.”

“People will see less first class in the future as we start to say that on busy suburban trains you can’t start segregating,” he added.

The Department for Transport issues contracts to run rail franchises in England, and can include conditions such as whether first class seating should be provided.

In March, ahead of contract negotiations to run the Southeastern franchise, if they wanted to remove first class seats at busy times.

The contract to run the line – which serves south-east London, Kent and parts of East Sussex – expires next year.

Other in the next 12 months include the West Coast Main Line from April 2019, and the East Midlands regional contract, which has three firms bidding to run the contract from March 2018.

However, some are not due for renewal for several years, with the Northern and East Anglia franchises currently not due for renewal until 2025.

David Sidebottom, director of Transport Focus – which represents passengers – said it was important train users have a choice, “as long as that choice is not to the extreme detriment of everyone else”.

“A balance needs to be achieved between the number of standard and first class carriages a train has,” he added.

“However, it is clear that where passengers are being squeezed into standard class carriages while there are plenty of empty seats in first class, this balance is not being achieved.

“In the long-term we need a big increase in capacity. This means continued investment in new and longer trains to meet existing demand.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group – which represents train operators – said firms were prepared to work with the government over the issue.

“We understand passengers’ frustration when they can’t get a seat which is why rail companies are working together to invest and improve journeys with thousands of new carriages and 6,400 extra train services a week by 2021,” he said.

“We will continue to work with governments to increase seats on key routes to boost communities, businesses and the economy.”

Brembo’s Bombassei inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame

DETROIT — Very few auto parts have enough cachet that customers recognize and covet them by name.

Recaro seats, Pirelli tires and Bose speakers come to mind — but Brembo brakes might have the most star power of all. Anytime a Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini pulls into view, the brightly painted Brembo calipers shine from the wheels like a billboard.

The Italian brake manufacturer has maintained an aura of exclusivity even as it expanded into more-affordable cars. Now, Brembo S.p.A. Chairman Alberto Bombassei is positioning his company for the future with cutting-edge technologies such as carbon ceramic rotors and brake-by-wire.

“Sixty percent of the technologies we introduce in racing moves to cars,” Bombassei told Automotive News this week during a visit to Brembo’s U.S. offices in suburban Detroit. “We like racing because it is extreme — everything is tested to the limit.”

Bombassei, 76, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame on Thursday with sports-car impresario Jack Roush and former General Motors designer Ed Welburn.

Bombassei’s involvement with Brembo stretches back to 1961, when his father, Emilio, launched a machine shop. Alberto, who was 20, worked for his father as they manufactured metal components for customers such as Alfa Romeo and Pirelli.

In 1964, Brembo introduced its own line of brake rotors, and in 1975 it started producing aluminum calipers for Ferrari’s Formula One cars.

Brembo was well established in racing when Alberto had his “eureka” moment in 1987. That’s when he began painting Brembo calipers in bright colors — red, yellow, orange, blue — any shade its customers desired.

Among automotive cognoscenti, colorful Brembo brakes became an indicator of status. A Porsche with red calipers was a very nice car, but yellow calipers signified carbon ceramic brakes — the very best.

That gave Porsche owners something to yearn for, Bombassei said with a chuckle.

At 76, Bombassei is in no particular hurry to retire, although he branched out into politics when he won a seat in Italy’s parliament. But he remains actively engaged with Brembo as the company plots its global expansion.

The company has built new foundries in Poland, Mexico, China and Michigan, and it supplies brakes for affordable performance cars such as the Honda Civic Type R, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, and the Ford Mustang.

Brembo also is eyeing the commercial-truck market, now that North American truckmakers are starting to switch from drum brakes to discs.

What’s next after that? “Better ask my customers,” Bombassei replied. “I will do what they want.”

UK to bring in drone registration

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Introducing drone registration “is not about stopping people having fun”

The UK government has announced plans to introduce drone registration and safety awareness courses for owners of the small unmanned aircraft.

It will affect anyone who owns a drone which weighs more than 250 grams (8oz).

Drone maker DJI said it was in favour of the measures.

There is no time frame or firm plans as to how the new rules will be enforced and the Department of Transport admitted that “the nuts and bolts still have to be ironed out”.

The drone safety awareness test will involve potential flyers having to “prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations”, it said.

The plans also include the extension of geo-fencing, in which no-fly zones are programmed into drones using GPS co-ordinates, around areas such as prisons and airports.

“Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones,” said Aviation Minister Lord Martin Callanan.

“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.

“But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”

There has not been a significant accident involving a drone yet, but there have been several reports of . There have also been incidents of .

“Registration has its place. I would argue it will focus the mind of the flyer – but I don’t think you can say it’s going to be a magic solution,” said Dr Alan McKenna, law lecturer at the University of Kent.

“There will be people who will simply not be on the system, that’s inevitable.”

Similar registration rules in the US were and as a result are currently not applicable to non-commercial flyers.

Dr McKenna said there were also issues around how a drone’s owner could be identified by police and whether personal liability insurance should also be a legal requirement in the event of an accident.

DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg said the plans sounded like “reasonable common sense”.

“The fact is that there are multiple users of the airspace and the public should have access to the air – we firmly believe that – but you need systems to make sure everybody can do it safely,” he said.

“In all of these issues the question is, where is the reasonable middle ground? Banning drones is unreasonable, having no rules is also unreasonable.

“We’re encouraged that [the British government] seems to be recognising the value drones provide and looking for reasonable solutions.”