NORTH-East landowners have urged the Government to act to stop flying drones snooping on people.

With consumer spending on drones expected to hit an all-time high this Christmas, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is calling for regulators to update privacy rules.

Consumer drone sales rose by 24 per cent ahead of the Christmas shopping rush in December 2014, with electronics dealer Maplin Direct reporting domestic drone sales of more than 10,000 units over a 12 month period.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is concerned that current drone-use regulations are not robust enough to ensure that privacy is maintained considering the growth in drone availability and popularity as gifts in recent years.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun over Christmas, but the growth in the availability of drones with high resolution cameras for consumer use, rather than industry, presents a significant risk to privacy and requires action.”

The European Aviation Safety Agency opened a consultation in July 2015 on the introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of drones.

The CLA responded to the consultation through its sister organisation, the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), arguing for further controls on privacy, data protection and future regulation to give good guidance on what circumstances individuals can expect privacy in relation to both residential properties and privately owned land.

Miss Fairburn said: “Earlier in the year we put forward workable proposals for regulation reform, and we will be pressing the relevant authorities in Europe and within the UK to address this issue.

“I urge those buying drones as gifts for friends and families to use common sense and follow the CLA’s top tips when operating them in order to ensure both public safety and privacy.”

Nationally, drone related calls to the police in England have risen by more than 2,000 per cent in the last three years.

Freedom of Information figures show in 2013 officers recorded 19 calls compared to at least 461 in 2015.

The Civil Aviation Authority has produced a "dronecode" telling users not to fly higher than 400ft, or near aircraft or airfields, and always keep eyes on the drone.

The law also stipulates that drones fitted with cameras must not be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures, or over large gatherings.