Memorandum by Open Spaces Society (OS
1. The Open Spaces Society, founded in 1865,
is Britain's oldest national conservation body. A registered charity,
we campaign to create and conserve common land, village greens,
open spaces and rights of public access, in town and country,
in England and Wales.
2. The OSS is a statutory consultee for
a number of legal procedures affecting rights of way and it is
also consulted by DEFRA, Welsh Assembly and local authorities
on matters affecting commons and town and village greens. We hope
the sub-committee will accept that the following comments do not
relate solely to urban affairs.
3. We greatly value the work of the Ordnance
Survey (OS) and fully accept that they need an adequate financial
return (in the absence of major government subsidy for all purposes)
if their products are to be kept up-to-date and published to the
high standard that is traditional with and expected from them.
4. The most useful OS products to the OSS,
sharing with general public use, are the Explorer and Outdoor
Leisure 1:25,000 series showing field boundaries and rights of
way and, in the future, all types of access land.
5. However, our work includes:
checking accuracy of existing depictions;
dealing with unlawful obstructions;
considering proposals for diversion
or extinguishment of rights of way;
considering problems and proposals
in relation to commons, town and village greens and other open
spaces in town and countryside;
examining access land proposals;
considering planning applications
and development plan amendments affecting any of the above;
preparation for public inquiries,
legal proceedings and private legislation petitions and select
These often require the use of larger scale
maps1:10,000 or, particularly (but not only) in urban areas,
1:2,500 or 1:1,250, which may be produced direct by OS or derived
from them by others but still involving OS copyright.
6. Our work may be carried out in the field,
at home or in public libraries by, mainly, voluntary local representatives
and others who may have to consult our own executive committee,
other voluntary bodies, local authorities, government departments
and agencies, or non-government organisations. They may also wish
to negotiate amendments with landowners and occupiers. All this
can require copying for the distribution of maps to many people.
These copies are rarely suitable for general use and are not likely
to cause OS any loss of legitimately expected income.
7. OSS is not licensed by OS to reproduce
these maps but in practice the society itself seldom needs to
do so. If they are required for actual parliamentary or legal
proceedings or at a public inquiry, they are exempt from copyright
in any case. The problems mainly arise when our individual helpers
all over the country need to carry out all the preliminary or
informal work which is absolutely necessary if OSS is to be effective
in its duties. It is not merely the possible requirement to pay
royalties. We believe that OS might be generous enough to waive
these in many cases if it were possible to ask them. But, if our
helpers wish to arrange for copies of maps themselves as soon
as they are required, a full price (including royalty) may have
to be paid to retailers or copy shops, or local authorities (including
their public libraries) may refuse to allow copying because it
would breach the terms of their own licence. If our helpers have
their own copying machine or can use the internet, they may find
themselves breaking the law to do their work properly.
8. We consider that it should be possible
for voluntary bodies to carry out their functions in the public
interest without having to pay royalties for the maps used or
copied and without having to get specific permission on each occasion.
But we should be happy to ensure that all maps produced for this
purpose are endorsed with an acknowledgement of the Crown's and
OS's copyright. This could be done by the distribution to volunteers
of a rubber stamp containing the appropriate words.
9. The Countryside Agency has recently published
draft maps of access land, under the Countryside and Rights of
Way Act 2000. Volunteers and members of the public need to have
ready access to these in order to check them in the limited, three-month,
period allowed. But copyright provisions do not allow them to
photocopy the maps and thus they are put to considerable expense
having to buy them from the Countryside Agency. The alternative
is to download them from the website but these maps are less accurate
and in any case the majority of people do not have access to the
10. The further problem is that large-scale
maps under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act are not available
and yet in some cases these are essential in order to check the
11. The OS should recognise the value of
guide books as an advertisement for the OS. The use of OS maps
in walking books can encourage people then to go and purchase
more OS maps. So in our view there should be no licence fee due
for maps in guide books, leaflets and similar products up to an
areas of say A6 size.
12. People who are unfamiliar with access
to the countryside benefit greatly from being able to use Ordnance
Survey maps (for instance Outdoor Leisure maps) for educational
purposes. We have evidence that 24 Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure
maps were purchased by first-time buyers following a course run
by one of our committee members.
13. There should be no charge or payment
due to the Ordnance Survey for A4 size copies of maps at any scale
made for any educational purpose, when they are used entirely
for training, whether such courses are formal or informal, provided
that such courses are run as an advertised event.
14. We have heard a rumour that the OS wishes
to phase out Outdoor Leisure maps and replace them by Explorer
maps. We very strongly oppose this. Outdoor Leisure maps, which
cover particularly popular or special areas, are much valued by
our members and the wider public. They often do not cover such
a large area as an Explorer map but are particularly convenient
when visiting an area on holiday. We trust the OS will maintain
the Outdoor Leisure series.
15. We should be pleased to give oral evidence
and to show examples of map copies that have been utilised for
our work, and to expand on any of the points made in this submission.