The Geospatial Commission is working with its pilot area partners in Devon, West Midlands and Northern Ireland, investing £4.56 million as part of a new National Land Data Programme.
The pilots will deliver a blueprint for land use data improvement priorities, evidence about how to overcome the data access challenges, and test the benefits of a common UK-wide platform for land use data, as set out in the Geospatial Commission Annual Plan 2021/22.
Land is the UK’s most valuable asset, worth £5.4 trillion in 2017. This finite resource faces competing demands from housing, planning, infrastructure, farming, food production, carbon sequestration, flood protection, habitat creation, underground mineral and geothermal resources.
Demands on land will increase with the need to reach target reductions in net zero greenhouse gas emissions, build more affordable and sustainable homes, and deliver over £600 billion of infrastructure investment over the next five years to Build Back Better.
"To make the right choices about how we use our land, we need to ensure that the relevant data are available," said Lord True CBE, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office. "The National Land Data Programme pilots will provide insights into the current data access challenges to help improve data that supports effective decision-making and contributes towards critical government priorities, including working towards net zero and housing development."
Cabinet Office will shortly be launching procurement for the programme’s data sharing platform and external evaluation, and the programme will be delivered and evaluated by the end of FY 2022/23.
Central departments across Whitehall are closely involved. Defra, BEIS, MHCLG, DfT and ONS all sit on the Programme Steering Board and the programme team is working to ensure policy alignment.
Spending Round 2019 announced £200 million for the Shared Outcomes Fund to fund pilot projects to test innovative ways of working across the public sector, with an emphasis on thorough plans for evaluation.
James is the Editor of Government Transformation magazine, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the agenda for the UK's biggest public sector transformation conference.