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Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council rises to a steep environmental challenge

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has historically had to rely on paper maps to identify and assess its grassed areas to be cut. Thanks to OS data, it now has an accurate digital dataset that gives a clearer, current view of many aspects of slope assessment – and supports its green agenda to increase biodiversity across the region.

What were the challenges?

  • Identifying grassed areas that need cutting.
  • Risk assessing the severity of the slope to ensure the health and safety of staff using mowing machines with manufacture safety limits between 15° to 40°.
  • Collecting data to support council strategies.
  • Increasing biodiversity across the region, including wildflower planting in the appropriate areas.
  • Updating the assessment process which historically relied on staff being on site recording data which then had to be put on paper maps and plans.

What was the solution?

Using geospatial datasets has enabled the parks and environmental services departments to become more efficient, bringing significant benefits to the biodiversity of the region and creating a better environment to live in.

Rob Barnett, Park Manager, Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council

Using a combination of OS MasterMap® Topography Layer, and various height datasets, historic paper plans were accurately digitised to create a spatial dataset that can now be updated easily as sites in the area change. The data is analysed to accurately calculate areas with a steepness of more than 15° and to also identify aspect and hill shade. This allows the Council to decide more quickly whether an area should continue to be cut, by which type of machine or whether the slope is suitable for wildflower planting.

What were the outcomes?

  • Saves manpower in having to physically measure and transfer data to existing maps.
  • Plans can be easily produced showing different slope criteria, making risk assessment easier.
  • The right resources and machinery can be allocated based on physical data and not on historical or anecdotal evidence.
  • Land is managed more effectively.
  • Health and safety of staff is improved by identifying the correct cutting method before a site visit.
  • Ideal sites that contribute to national and local strategies.
  • Biodiversity can be easily improved and monitored introduced across the region.
  • Sites open to members of the public can be promoted to residents as well as walkers, ramblers and cyclists.
  • Quick access to tools which affect decision making - helping make the town a better place to live and visit.

The products used

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