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Planners given free access to satellite images

Words: Huw Morris
Countdown begins for Highlands spaceport / iStock-143175766

Planning departments will have free access to the UK Space Agency’s archives of satellite images and radar data for research and development projects.

The move, announced by science minister Sam Gyimah, aims to provide an “unprecedented level of detail” of large UK cities, transport networks, national parks and energy infrastructure. The images offer sub-5m resolution with less than 15 per cent cloud cover.

Satellite data has already been used in pilot projects by Bournemouth Borough Council to identify the best locations for electric vehicle charging points, while the Environment Agency has trialled images as a tool to monitor plastic pollution off the UK’s shoreline to support clean-up operations and protect wildlife.

The data will be available for up to three years to explore what role high-resolution satellite data could have in public sector delivery.

The project feeds into the recently established Geospatial Commission, set up by the government to maximise the value of all UK government data linked to location and to create jobs and growth.

The move also aims to boost  the UK’s space industry, which already employs about 40,000 people, while benefiting the public sector in areas such as planning and development.

Image credit | iStock