New drone owners are being warned about the dangers of flying the devices as soon as they unwrap them this Christmas after the travel chaos at Gatwick Airport.

British Police and aviation authorities have urged users to read up on strict rules about the remote-controlled gadgets before taking them for their first spin.

Those caught flouting height and airport restrictions face a maximum fine of £2,500 and up to five years' imprisonment.

The new law, which came into effect in July, restricts all drones from flying above 400 feet and within one kilometre of airport boundaries.

Around 1,000 Gatwick flights were cancelled or diverted across three days last week after drones were spotted inside the airport perimeter.

The crisis at the UK's second busiest airport ruined the pre-Christmas travel plans of tens of thousands of people.

In Ireland, drones are regulated by the Irish Aviation Authority under the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order.

Under the order, all drones weighing more than 1kg must be registered with the IAA before use.

However many recreational drones do not meet this threshold and are exempt from this element of the legislation.

Drone owners are also prohibited from using them "in Air Traffic Services airspace... within 5km of an aerodrome during periods of aircraft operations" and at heights exceeding 120 metres.

Drones are used for many applications including photography, filming and search and rescue.

Additional reporting: Peter Farrell