Belfast Telegraph

No-fly zone over Royal Portrush for The Open

Royal Portrush with Whiterocks beach below
Royal Portrush with Whiterocks beach below

By David Young

A no-fly zone will be imposed around Portrush when it hosts The Open this summer.

Flying will be restricted in the vicinity of Royal Portrush Golf Club while the event is staged.

As well as traditional fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, kites, balloons and small unmanned aircraft such as drones will be banned.

The move will affect photographers who are planning to use drones to get exclusive shots of the action.

Some limited categories of aerial traffic will be exempt from the no-fly order, including police machines, the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance and coastguard aircraft.

Northern Ireland is staging the Major golf tournament for the first time since 1951.

The global sports spotlight will focus on the famous north coast course for golf's original championship - bringing worldwide attention to the Causeway Coast's tourist destinations.

Fans are expected to flock to watch Francesco Molinari defend the iconic Claret Jug against the world's greatest golfers, including Northern Ireland's own golf superstar, Rory McIlroy.

The tournament is held from Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July, 21.

Around 215,000 spectators are expected to attend the championship across the event, plus practice day. Earlier this month, an additional 15,000 tickets were made available for the sporting event.

The organisers R&A have extended the capacity on each of the four championship days by 3,750, meaning 43,750 spectators will be at the venue each day.

UK Sports Minister Jeremy Wright visited Portrush last month and said it would showcase the best of the north coast.

He said: "The Championship is a wonderful opportunity to promote the best of Northern Ireland to the world, both as a host of major sporting events and as a leading visitor destination."

It is not unusual for no-fly zones to be put in place around major sporting events. A similar ban was in place for Cheltenham and the Grand National.

The Portrush no-fly zone decision comes after a spate of drone sightings shut down major UK airports, including Gatwick and Heathrow.

Last December, hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick airport after drones were spotted over the runway, causing massive disruption to domestic and international flights.

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