UK Environment Agency plans landscape maps to indicate illegal waste dumping

Laser scan (Source: Environment Agency)

London, UK — The Environment Agency has announced plans to map England’s entire landscape by 2020, using the data to assess flood risk, plan effective defences, inform conservation work and fight waste crime. Using aircraft equipped with laser scanners, the Environment Agency will map all 130,000 km2 of the country, including rivers, fields and national parks. The data will also be made available for free to the public and industry.

Currently about 75 per cent of the country is mapped but with only sporadic coverage of upland areas. The new project, beginning over winter, will cover all of England’s national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, commented: „This ambitious project will enhance our understanding of England’s unique natural features and landscape, helping us to better understand flood risk, plan effective defences and fight waste crime. I’m pleased we are able to gather, use and share such valuable data to contribute to environmental improvements and conservation. It’s just one of the many ways the Environment Agency is using technology to help people and wildlife.“

The Environment Agency has been using lidar – light detection and ranging – technology for 20 years to better understand flood risk. Maps are created by aircraft equipped with laser scanners, which measure the distance between the aeroplane and the ground. The data collected can then be used to plan flood defences across whole river catchments. It also helps environment officers spot sudden changes in the landscape that could indicate illegal waste dumping – in 2014 eight people in Cornwall were fined for dumping 4,500 m3 of waste, which was discovered using lidar data.

In 2015, the Environment Agency made 11 terabytes of lidar data available for free to the public as open data. Since then, the data has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. The data has – among others – even helped archaeologists uncover lost Roman roads in the north of the country.

More information on the Environment Agency`s collecting and using Lidar data can be found under

Source: UK Environment Agency