Responding to enquiries and information requests

This section is here to help you respond to various types of enquiry, such as Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations requests; planning queries; other statutory requests for information; helping community groups; other general enquiries and so on.

There are two parts to this guidance on answering enquiries:

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Statutory requests

Requests for disclosure under the Freedom of Information Acts

Yes, you can respond to these types of enquiry and include mapping where it is essential.

This guidance is based on:

This means that they may be revised as legislation is interpreted, reviewed and updated.

It should be noted that an application from an enquirer only applies to their right to ‘information’. It does not mean that information has to be provided in a particular format.

There may also be other factors and exemptions may be relevant to your data; that are not relevant to us.

It should also be noted that the Code of Practices for both FOIA and FOISA specifically refers to the fact that public authorities should consult with others who have an interest in the data which is the subject of a Disclosure Request.

Where you are making the information available, as this is a form of 'publishing', you need to ensure that you applied the relevent publishing terms. For more information see the Publishing your information section of this guidance.

For more guidance on answering Freedom of Information Act and Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act requests

Does the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 change any of the guidance?

Not that we are aware of.

We are aware that the Freedom of Information Act contains a clause (Section 11(5)) that defines a 'dataset'. It should be noted that any data you create using OS data will not fall within that definition of a dataset.

Requests for disclosure under the Environment Information Regulations

Yes, you can respond to these types of enquiry and include mapping where it is essential.

This guidance is based on:

This means that they may be revised as legislation is interpreted, reviewed and updated.

It should be noted that an application from an enquirer only applies to their right to ‘information’. It does not mean that information has to be provided in a particular format.

There may also be other factors and exemptions may be relevant to your data; that are not relevant to us.

Where you are making the information available, as this is a form of 'publishing', you need to ensure that you applied the relevent publishing terms. For more information see the Publishing your information section of this guidance.

For more guidance on answering Environmental Information Regulations and Environmental Information Regulations (Scotland) requests.

What about the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations?

The PSI Regulations do not apply to information in which a third party owns relevant intellectual property (IP).

All OS data should be treated by you as being third-party IP.

You should refuse all requests under the PSI Regulations for re-use of OS mapping and digital data or information containing such mapping or data.

More guidance on Re-use of Public Sector Information in England and Wales and in Scotland.

Under what circumstances are OS happy for Licensed Data to be supplied?

These guidance documents explain the circumstances in which OS is happy for its Licensed Data (or data derived from it) to be released, thereby saving both members and OS time which would otherwise be spent looking at requests on an individual basis.

The guidance also sets out those areas where OS may have concerns about its information being disclosed.

Important notes:

  • Nothing in the guidance is to be interpreted as any form of permission or licence from us to use our mapping or data; as use of our Licensed Data is covered by our formal licences (including PSMA and OSMA)
  • Neither is this legal advice and should not be relied upon as such, for that you need to refer to your own advisors.
Planning enquiry

Answering a enquiry about an exsisting application is part of your core business, so you may provide mapping where appropriate to support that answer and can be either paper or data form.

As this is a form of 'publishing', you need to ensure that you applied the relevent publishing terms. For more information see the Publishing your information section.

However, if the query is about the inital planning requirements including planning applications, then you may supply any information that you are obliged to provide as part of your core business.

Please note, for both of the above, you may also apply charges that you are expressly permitted to make pursuant to the relevent legislative authority that governs the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, Scotland, Wales, and/or Northern Island to which you are subject.

Important note:

Please be aware your Member Licence does not allow you to provide a basic map that the applicant will normally be required to provide as part of their application.

We don't sell planning application maps ourselves. You can get them from our partners, who are able to supply large scale OS maps, centred on a location of your choice. You can order them online, or visit an outlet near you.

Other 'statutory' requests for information

Yes, you can respond to these types of request.

This is because answering them is part of your core business.

You may provide mapping where appropriate to support that answer and can be either paper or data form.

As this is a form of 'publishing', you need to ensure that you applied the relevent publishing terms. For more information see the Publishing your information section.

You may also apply charges that you are expressly permitted to make pursuant to the relevent legislative authority that governs the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, Scotland, Wales, and/or Northern Island to which you are subject.

Are there any other ways that we can respond to these requests?

Yes.

For example:

  • if you are getting lots requests for the same information, can you make the information reasonably available on (or through) your website? For more information on web publishing. This could include both viewing and downloading your information, although this may need the use of an End User Licence
  • have you considered whether you could make available a version of your information as open data and use the Open Government Licence, i.e. through seeking a derived data exemption?
When can we refuse a request for information?

Whilst you may be asked for information, this doesn't mean that you are always obliged to provide it.

For more information:

Other types of enquiry

General enquiries

Answering a general enquiry is part of your Core Business.

You may provide mapping where appropriate to support that answer and can be either paper or data form. You need to ensure that you apply the relevent common features for the type of supply.

Where you are making the information available, as this is a form of 'publishing', you need to ensure that you applied the relevent publishing terms. For more details see the Publishing your information section of this guidance.

You may also apply charges to provide that information, on the condition that you are not making financial gain or being part of a commercial service.

If you wish to provide commerical services, OS have other licensing arrangements available.

Can we provide information to local community groups?

Yes, and in the same way as a request from an individual.

In addition, local community groups are actively being encouraged to become engaged in local matters. However, unlike town, parish and community councils these community groups are not eligible to join either of these OS mapping agreements in their own right.

How, and what, you provide them will depend on how their request directly relates to and or supports your Core Business.

More information sharing data with community groups and support for neighbourhood planning.

Can we use our Public Library to answer enquiries?

Yes.

Public libraries are regarded as being a department of their local authority, so have the same rights and obligations as other departments.

This means that you can use them as a resource to answer enquiries and in the same way as your other customer service centres.

Note: in addition, it is rerecognised that public libraries also facilitate certain public administration and fair dealing uses which are allowed under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and do not need our licence. 

See here for more about the copying of maps by public libraries.