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MPs draw on Map for England data in debate

05 December 2012

M4EThe findings of the Map for England were drawn upon by both the Business Innovation and Skills Minister Michael Fallon MP and Shadow Planning Minister Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP to illustrate their points in the Growth and Infrastructure Public Bill Committee last week (29 November), demonstrating the value that bringing together different datasets can bring to informing debate on policy.

Pictured right: The Map for England pilot website shows the superfast broadband coverage and National Parks in the North of England. Pink is Ofcom's worst rating for availability of superfast broadband.

Both Fallon and Blackman-Woods referred to the Map for England pilot website's maps showing the relationship between superfast broadband coverage and National Park boundaries which showed that:

  • overall, National Parks have some of the worst access to (availability of) superfast broadband in England, and National Parks in the North of England are particularly poorly served
  • availability of superfast broadband varies between and within National Parks, according to Ofcom's data

Blackman-Woods MP also made the point that when growth areas are also considered that:

  • there is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed in the East of England which is both a growth area (and an internationally renowned centre for research) and  an area that receives a low rating by Ofcom for superfast broadband availability

The findings were published in a RTPI briefing for Clause 7 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which is concerned with improving access to superfast broadband in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and were discussed in the Growth and Infrastructure Committee on the 29 November.

Peter Shand, RTPI Map for England Project Officer, said:  "I'm delighted that both Conservative and Labour MPs were able to draw on the information that the Map for England reveals. The RTPI believes that policy should as far as possible be informed by a sound evidence base and MPs' use of the information shows that there is very real practical value in having a Map for England. In the current drive towards open data, the Map for England is a way of releasing publicly available information in a transparent and standardised format, which would also increase consistency in the appraisal of policy, and provide a better understanding of how each of these things relate to each other."

James Sealey, Product Manager at Idox, said at the launch: "Planning is one of our core business areas. We welcome the opportunity to support the RTPI's debate on the value of having a Map for England utilising our proven capability in providing spatially enabled software solutions for the planning domain."

The RTPI's briefing for Clause 7 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill can be downloaded here

The sessions of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill Committee featuring debate on Clause 7 can be downloaded here and here.