Drones not used to spy – shire


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire denies it is using aerial drones to find private swimming pools in the lead-up to compulsory registration in November.

The shire says drones may be used for vegetation inspections.

A reference to the use of drones in the council’s 12 May Quarterly Report said drones were being used “to assist conducting formal inspections of land, which has reduced the risk to officers in navigating hazardous sites and eliminated the need to contract external providers … for aerial imaging”.

Glenn Murphy told The News that he suspected drones were being used to find pools when his mother-in-law, who lives in Mornington, received a letter alerting her to the need to register her pool “even though she doesn’t have one”.

Mr Murphy, of Hampton Park, said he phoned the shire and was told the council used “aerial surveillance to photograph pools and spas in the district”.

“This raises two points – firstly, is the shire legally able to invade people’s privacy in this way and, secondly, how does it find something that is not there?”

The council’s planning and building director David Bergin said drones were not being used to check for pools in backyards.

However, satellite photography is an option the council could use to pinpoint areas of vegetation clearing or, by extension, swimming pools, at hard-to-access properties.

The peninsula reportedly has the second highest number of private swimming pools in Australia – 17,000 – which is behind only one harbourside Sydney suburb.

The shire wrote to “known” owners late last year and again several weeks ago to alert them to the need to register pools and spas and pay a fee of up to $79 which includes a registration fee and a search fee.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 16 June 2020


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