The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have announced plans to ban drones from within 5km of airport runways.
The Department for Transport is using secondary legislation - a statutory instrument - to ban people from flying drones with three miles (five km) of airport runways from 13 March, 'under existing police powers to protect airports' a spokeswoman said.
The Government appears to have trailed behind the technology in terms of protecting the public against drone misuse.
It was not until 2017 that it considered making malicious use of a drones a criminal offence. It then decided drones over a certain weight would have to be registered but it wasn't until last year that it introduced a ban on flying near airports, which it is now extending.
Current rules, introduced on 30 May 2018, restrict all drones from flying above 400 feet and within 1km of airport boundaries. Draft primary legislation, through a Drones Bill, was due to be published last summer.
'Work to progress a new Drones Bill is also underway and will be introduced in due course. It will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within 5km of an airport — helping them to tackle disruption such as that seen at Gatwick in December,' the Department for Transport said on Wednesday.
'It will also give additional new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft — including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.'
On top of the new restrictions, the DfT is working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and retailer Jessops on a national campaign to increase public awareness of the rules around flying drones.
The Government will also be releasing a digital toolkit for airports.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: 'The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.
'We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place. Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.'
Tim Johnson, policy director at the CAA, said: 'It is illegal to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.
'The CAA’s Dronecode provides advice on how to fly your drone safely and follow the rules. you can see it at www.dronesafe.uk'
The Home Office is also reviewing the UK’s approach to countering the malicious use of drones and protecting key national infrastructure, including new technology to counter drones.