On March 17th Eric Pickles MP asked a question about INSPIRE in the UK Parliament:

  • “To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment (a) his Department and (b) Ordnance Survey has made of the implications of the EU’s plans for Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE).”

On Tuesday 21st, the same day as the INSPIRE vote in the ENVI Committee, he received this written answer from Jim Fitzpatrick MP.

Written answer to INSPIRE question in UK Parliament

  • “Defra is the UK Policy Lead department on INSPIRE. Defra has completed the partial Regulatory Impact Assessment covering the benefits and cost to UK. This Regulatory Impact Assessment accompanied a supplementary explanatory memorandum sent to the appropriate Scrutiny Committees on 26 May 2005.”

Select Committee on European Scrutiny discussion of INSPIRE mentions the Regulatory Impact Assessment.

  • … it suggests that, so far as the UK is concerned, the costs of amending existing data to comply with the proposal would be higher than those suggested in the Commission’s estimate (though presumably still below the assumed benefits). However, the Assessment also identifies a major concern in that the proposal stipulates that there should be no financial barriers to the exchange of information between public sector bodies — a condition which would prejudice the ability of bodies such as the Ordnance Survey to recover costs, and which could in turn lead to a decline in the quality of data generated. The Minister says that a sizeable number of other Member States have similar concerns, and that the Government has therefore been seeking in the Council, and with the Commission and the European Parliament, to amend the provision in question.

Who to contact at Defra?

  • Defra website

  • Professor Howard Dalton is DEFRA’s Chief Scientific Adviser. He will likely have had a initial input into forming DEFRA’s INSPIRE policy.

  • Who is putting forward DEFRA’s line to the Environment Minister in the Council?
  • Margaret Beckett is the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.