The Environment Agency (EA) is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). EA works to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development in England. It provides services and information in a range of related areas, from fisheries and flooding to wildlife and waste.
Established under the Environment Act in 1996, EA is responsible for regulating major industry and waste, treating contaminated land, water quality and resources, fisheries, inland river, estuary and harbour navigations, and conservation and ecology. It is also responsible for managing flood risks and issuing flood warnings to the public.
All this activity is underpinned by data, which informs EA on the decisions it makes. There are currently around EA 1,700 datasets that are known and defined. It works with a wide range of partners – from government and local authorities to businesses and communities – for whom it prioritises making its data available and accessible.
Since its inception, EA has been approached by companies looking to use its data in their products and services. Where once companies used to each photocopy EA’s records and digitise them themselves, EA has long since shared its data and information from a central platform, DataShare, and recovered some revenue from users. Through DataShare, EA has made significant datasets available for reuse under commercial (and other) licences.
One of these, the Risk of Flooding from Rivers and Sea (RoFRS) dataset, has now been released with an Open Government Licence, and EA has committed to releasing all of its currently charged-for data as open data by 2018.