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

Supplementary memorandum by Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (OS 17(a))

  Thank you for the letter, dated 27 March. I'm outlining a response to your three questions below.

  In respect of question 296, does "pressures from Europe" refer to the draft legal framework? If not what does it refer to?

  Pressures from Europe may include directives, regulations and judgements that apply in general to the public sector but, in particular, there are three relevant European proposals that are focused on access to public information. These include:

    —  ``Towards a EU Framework for the Exploitation of PSI'': EC Director General Information Society Working Document;

    —  ``Public Access to Environmental Information'': EU Draft Directive;

    —  ``INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe)'': EC Director General Environment initiative.

  How will an EU framework for the exploitation of PSI and the INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) initiative affect Ordnance Survey?

  The EU Framework for the Exploitation of PSI currently proposes that public sector information should be made available at a price that ensures that total charges levied do not exceed the cost of producing the information. Ordnance Survey currently operates as a trading fund and is required to meet agreed performance targets, including a rate of return on capital employed. Depending on the finally agreed formulation of the EU requirement, the EU proposals could impact on the current OS trading model.

  The INSPIRE initiative currently proposes EC legislation that aims to ensure that geographic information is readily available for use by EC policy-makers and citizens. This provides an opportunity for the GB-wide standards advocated by Ordnance Survey to be adopted throughout Europe. The proposed legislation is likely to affect the market for geographic information and may impact on the current approach to the pricing and licensing of Ordnance Survey data.

  Was the proposed EU Framework for the exploitation of PSI and INSPIRE considered as part of stage one of the Quinquennial Review?

  The current European proposals were not considered in stage one of the Quinquennial Review. They will be considered in concluding stage two and defining the best way forward for Ordnance Survey.

  In summary, the European developments outlined above may affect Ordnance Survey in future, but the extent of the impact can only be assessed as the various initiatives progress.

Sally Keeble MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

26 April 2002

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