Britain to expand drone exclusion zone after Gatwick chaos

An airplane takes off at Gatwick Airport, after the airport reopened to flights following its forced closure because of drone activity. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 08 January 2019

Britain to expand drone exclusion zone after Gatwick chaos

LONDON: Britain will extend a drone exclusion zone five-fold and give police new powers against lawbreaking operators, the government said on Monday, after sightings last month paralyzed the nation’s second busiest airport.
The changes announced in parliament by the transport minister, Chris Grayling, followed pre-Christmas disruption at Gatwick airport where drone flyovers led to 1,000 flight cancelations affecting 140,000 passengers.
The military was drafted in to help.
“The disruption caused by drones to flights at Gatwick airport last month was deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal,” Grayling told parliament.
The Ministry of Defense remained on standby to deal with any further problems at Gatwick or any other airport, he added.
The government said the drone exclusion zone around airports would be extended to about 5 km (3 miles) — with additional extensions at runway ends — from 1 km now.
Grayling said the government would also begin testing the use of counter-drone technology as part of its response to a consultation begun before December’s disruption.


East Mediterranean states formally establish Egypt-based gas forum

Updated 1 min 30 sec ago

East Mediterranean states formally establish Egypt-based gas forum

CAIRO: Six states signed a charter for an Egypt-based energy forum on Tuesday, giving formal status to a group that seeks to promote natural gas exports from the eastern Mediterranean and that Israel hopes will strengthen ties with Arab neighbors.
Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan established the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) as an intergovernmental organization in a virtual ceremony hosted by Cairo.
The group unites regional rivals of Turkey, which has been locked in a bitter dispute with European Union members Greece and Cyprus over gas drilling rights in the region.
The Palestinian Authority is also part of the forum, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
France has applied to join, with the United States and European Union requesting observer status.
For Israel, the forum “brings regional cooperation with Arab and European countries, the first of its kind in history, with contracts to export (Israeli) gas to Jordan and Egypt worth $30 billion, and that is just the beginning,” added Steinitz.
Egypt began importing Israeli gas at the start of this year, for possible re-export to Europe or Asia.
The 2015 discovery of the giant offshore Zohr field had unlocked interest in Egypt’s energy market and encouraged Cairo to promote itself as a regional hub.
However, regional politics, infrastructure and transport costs, and rivalry between Turkey and eastern Mediterranean neighbors, complicate prospects for exploiting and transporting gas from the region.