Friday 26 June 2009

Freedom of Information

I can't decide where the boundary of the English counties end at the coast. Does the county end at the sea wall or cliff? How much of the beach or mudflats are part of the county? Is it only land above the tide line and if so which tide line, low, high, mean, lowest ever, highest ever? I'm also interested in how islands are dealt with. Peter from ItoWorld suggests they might be treated as enclaves, that is not joined directly to the county. Actually they could only be an enclave if they were surrounded by another county, islands don't count as enclaves, but that really is being picky. Another approach would be to extend the county boundary out from the coast to include the island then back to the coast line. I think this makes sense when the island is part-time like Lindisfarne which is only an island around high tide.

I contacted the boundary commission who replied with the now expected gibberish that they can't release this for use with OSM because it is recorded on a Ordnance Survey map and the licence doesn't allow them to release the map. I don't want the map - we are making a perfectly good map for ourselves, I want their data. At least they responded quickly and succinctly.

I tried another tack: I completed a Freedom of Information request to my local council, the East Riding of Yorkshire, to find out where they boundary is. My request was :

I want to know where the boundary of the county of the East Riding of Yorkshire ends at the coast. Does the county extend up to the 12 NM limit in the North sea? If not, are beaches on the North sea coast included in the county? Where does the boundary end in the Humber estuary? Does it abut against the boundary with North-East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire or is there a gap? Are the forts in the Humber part of ERoY?

I was surprised to get an email today which seemed unusually quick for the council. The email had a letter attached, so I had to wait with baited breath while OpenOffice fired up so I could read their reply. Was it worth it? Of course not, it was just an acknowledgement for my request. Only a fool would attach a document to an email that could just have been sent as an email. I wonder what the carefully thought out and worded answer will finally be.


- said...

They can be exclaves without the requirement of being surrounded by another county.

Chris Hill said...

According to my dictionary and Wikipedia, islands don't count as an exclave.

Simon Hewison said...

The responsibility for managing the foreshore is up to the local councils. Anything below the mean low water mark is the responsibility of the Crown Estates.

(So, if you want to go and plant a wind turbine, or tidal turbine, oil rig, or whatever on the sea bed a few km out, you need to talk to the Crown Estates for permission, not the local council)

With regards to islands beyond the tidal range of the mainland, and what county they are part of, Old OS Maps used to say something like "Pembrokeshire detached". Of course, with all boundary changes in the past few decades, it's a bit of guesswork if you don't want to refer to recent OS maps.