The INSPIRE Regulations 2009 require public authorities that hold spatial data to make that information available. Spatial data is any data with a direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area. Spatial data is often referred to as geospatial data or geographic information.
The Regulations apply to all public authorities that are covered by the Environmental Information Regulations that hold one or more spatial data sets. They also apply to any organisation or person holding spatial data on behalf of a public authority.
From December 2008, separate metadata rules came into force which placed obligations on those covered by INSPIRE to create full metadata for spatial data sets and data services by 24 December 2013.
The INSPIRE Directive 2007
European Directive 2007/2/EC is known as 'INSPIRE'. INSPIRE establishes an infrastructure for spatial information in the European Union and it was transposed into UK law in December 2009.
The aim of INSPIRE is to facilitate better environmental policy across the EU. This will be achieved by:
- improving the joining up of and access to existing spatial data across the European Union at a local, regional, national and international level;
- facilitating improvements in the sharing of spatial data between public authorities;
- and improving public access to spatial data.
Under INSPIRE Member States must make available in a consistent format spatial datasets which come within the scope of the Directive and also create network services for accessing the datasets. Datasets in scope of INSPIRE are ones which come under one or more of the 34 environmental themes set out in the Directive Annexes. Milestones are set for when metadata, data, and network services for datasets in each Annex are to be available. Technical Implementing Rules have subsequently been made by the EC to support implementation of INSPIRE.
The Directive was incorporated into the European Economic Area Agreement by EEA Joint Committee Decision (JCD) No 55/2010 of 30 April 2010, which entered into force on 1 July 2011. Switzerland has also passed legislation to incorporate INSPIRE standards although it has no obligation to do so.
To implement INSPIRE in the UK separate but broadly consistent regulations covering England, Northern Ireland and Wales; (SI 2009 No 3157) and Scotland (SSI 2009 No 440) came into effect on 31 December 2009. The INSPIRE (Amendment) Regulations 2012 continue the transposition into UK law of INSPIRE. The Amendment Regulations came into effect on 1 August 2012. Scotland will introduce an amending instrument in 2012.
An informal consolidated text of the INSPIRE Regulations can be read here.
The INSPIRE (Amendment) Regulations 2012 update the INSPIRE Regulations 2009 to take account of technical Implementing Rules made by the European Commission since the INSPIRE Directive was made. Further amending Statutory Instruments will be introduced to complete transposition as new EC Implementing Rules are made.
An Impact Assessment for implementation of INSPIRE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available as part of the Explanatory Memorandum which accompanies the INSPIRE Regulations 2009.
UK Member State monitoring and reporting
All EU Member States are required annually in May to submit to the European Commission a monitoring report with details of available datasets. The UK's most recent monitoring report can be found here.
Every 3 years from 2013 Member States must provide the EC with a Member State Report which describes the structures in place to achieve implementation of INSPIRE, and explain plans and aims for the delivery of successful outcomes.
European Commission INSPIRE website
The European Commission INSPIRE website has news of developments on INSPIRE and an archive of EC INSPIRE documents.