Skip to navigationSkip to content
Amazon
Not in the air above my back yard.
HOW UNCOUTH

The UK countryside’s opposition to Amazon’s drone tests is just so quintessentially British

By Mike Murphy

There is nothing more British than disapproving of something by responding with:

  1. Quiet tuts and huffs to one’s self near the offending person or thing.
  2. Exasperatedly saying things like, “Well I never!”
  3. Saying nothing and showing no negative emotions at the time, and then complaining to everyone you can find after the fact.

And it seems that in the case of the drone tests Amazon is reportedly undertaking in rural England, just about everyone in the area seems to have gone with the third option.

Last week, Amazon and the UK government came to an agreement to allow the US e-commerce giant to test its proposed Amazon Prime Air drones in the country. Amazon wants to test flying drones farther than a pilot can actually see them—something that’s integral for creating a viable drone delivery service, and which the US government has not fleshed out its rules for yet.

On Monday (August 1), the BBC came across a group of protestors in the Cambridgeshire countryside that seem diametrically opposed to the US company’s tests, as drones have reportedly been seen flying over an ancient Roman road.

This road is not like Roman walls in London or the bath houses in Bath, which still stand as feats of miraculous engineering, millennia after they were constructed. This is a grass-covered path near a field in the countryside. Nevertheless, the BBC recorded some archetypically British responses to Amazon’s tests:

Julia Napier, secretary of Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke said she was “absolutely horrified”.

“The idea of bringing drones to the middle of the countryside is so deeply shocking, one’s words fail,” she said.

“This is a site of special scientific interest. It is also important as an historical Roman monument.

“People walk here to find peace, the idea that drones can be whizzing over their heads, delivering parcels to people who cannot wait more than two days, who must have the new thing … means more noise in the countryside.”

Similarly, Terry Holloway, the director of an aeronautics club in the Cambridge area, told the Cambridge News that he was worried that drones are “a really good terrorist weapon.”

“You could quite easily fly your drone into a crowded football stadium and deliver poisonous gases,” he added, presumably referencing the local soccer club, Cambridge City FC, whose stadium can hold about 2,000 people.

Amazon wasn’t immediately available to confirm where it was flying its drones, or whether it will change its flight routes, given the blistering local opposition.