Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Association for Geographic Information (OS 13(b))


  I am writing to you in my capacity as AGI Chair 2002.

  I returned from Luxembourg on 21 March 2002 where I have been attending meetings at the European Commission and as a result I was unable to attend the inquiry on the 19 March 2002. I have read the unedited text of the Examination of Witnesses regarding Ms Sally Keeble MP currently available on the DTLR Select Committee web pages and this has given me cause for concern.

  In the text of the transcript (paragraphs 170 and again at 180 onwards) there are questions and answers related to the European Commissions work. These references are I believe related to the reuse of Public Sector Information and also the European need to manage the data required to enable sustainable policy making on the environment both at European level and the national level (INSPIRE).

  On behalf of the Association for Geographic Information I wish to submit further information to the Urban Affairs Committee. This is to clarify the situation as I feel the evidence that has been provided on Tuesday 19 March by the Minister is in fact showing a lack of awareness on the European Commission initiatives referred too. Indeed many organisations within the UK including the UK Government, the Ordnance Survey-GB, and the AGI have been involved with since 1998. I feel the DTLR Urban Affairs sub committee's attention should be drawn to the facts.

  The European Commission published a green paper on Public Sector Information: A Key Resource for Europe in January 1999. EC COM (1998) 585. During the consultation period the UK Government, the Ordnance Survey-GB, the AGI and many other parts of government within the UK were involved and submitted responses which are available on the European Commission web site. This green paper led to a European Commission communication on 23 October 2001 COM(2001) 607 eEurope 2002: Creating a EU Framework for the exploitation of Public Sector Information. On the 21 January 2002 the European Commission published a draft legal framework Towards a EU framework for the Exploitation of PSI. Again the AGI, the UK Government and the Ordnance Survey-GB submitted responses which I have enclosed.

  The eEurope and eGovernment initiatives have been ratified by the current UK Prime Minister and his Ministers at several European Council of Ministers meetings and has endorsed the actions regarding the reuse of Public Sector Information now underway by the European Commission. The key point here is that this is not a surprise initiative (as expressed in the transcript of Tuesday 19 March 2002) as both the UK Government and the Ordnance Survey-GB have been actively involved in this process for over three years now. All the submissions received by the European Commission on this can be found at the following URL. Included in these is one from the Ordnance Survey-GB and one from the UK Government.—reuse—consultation—replies.htm

  The European Commission Environmental European Spatial Data Infrastructure (E-ESDI) project renamed late in 2001 as INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) is also not new. INSPIRE is as a result of earlier agreements made by the EU Council of Ministers to which the current Prime Minister has agreed too and signed on behalf of the UK. This includes the Aarhus Agreement in 1998, The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, and the European Water Directive to name just a few. Again these initiatives have involved the UK Government including the DTLR and Ordnance Survey-GB personnel and as such pre-date the OS-GB stage one quinquennial review. I have enclosed a number of documents on the INSPIRE project which will enable further information to be located if required. I would suggest that those involved would not say that INSPIRE has come as a surprise.

  It is also not clear whether the impact of the above-mentioned agreements, legislation, projects were taken into account in the OS-GB state one quinquennial review.

  I hope that the above information together with the enclosed will enable the final documents produced by the Urban Affairs sub committee on this inquiry to address the inaccuracies mentioned in the evidence given on the 19 March 2002. I have also informed the European Commission personnel involved in the above-mentioned initiatives and projects as there may be a need to improve general awareness amongst member states to overcome the lack of awareness demonstrated within the transcript of the Urban Affairs committee proceedings on Tuesday 19 March 2002.

  I thank you for inviting the AGI to give evidence on the 19 March 2002 and I am happy to offer the services of the AGI to provide further information that may help your inquiry on OS-GB if that would be of assistance.

Chris Corbin

AGI Chair 2002

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