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INSPIRE Annex III Priorities

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Public bodies are facing the most challenging INSPIRE deadline yet: by December any dataset within scope of INSPIRE must be published in its current form with a  view service and a download service

INSPIRE requires public bodies to publish spatial data they hold relating to 34 environmental themes.  The themes include things that describe the environment like habitats; things that impact on the environment such as transport networks; and things that allow us to manage and understand the environment such as management areas and statistical units.

The themes are defined in annexes to the Directive as shown below. Each Annex has a series of deadlines by which data must be published and transformed in line with standard specifications.



Annex I

Annex II

Annex III


Geographical names


 Statistical units


Administrative units

Land cover

 Mineral resources

Sea regions



Natural risk zones

Land use

Cadastral parcels



Energy Resources

Transport networks


Species distribution

Habitats & biotopes



Oceanographic features

Human health & safety

Protected sites


Population dist. & demography

Utility & govt. services

Geographical grid systems


Meteorological features

Atmospheric conditions

Coordinate reference systems


Environmental monitoring facilities

Bio-geographical regions



Area management restriction / regulation zones & reporting units

Production & industrial facilities



Agri & Aquaculture facilities



Datasets for the 13 themes in Annex I and II are already published and can be viewed here. So now we are focusing on the 21 themes in Annex III.  The scope of the Annex III themes is very broad which means that the Directive will impact on a lot of public bodies, including every local authority.

Defra is responsible for monitoring and coordinating  to ensure the UK meets the requirements of INSPIRE.  To do this for all the INSPIRE datasets would be impossible, especially as we are a small team, so we are taking a risk based approach along the following lines.


Priority Datasets

We are currently working to identify a small number of 'priority datasets' for each theme in Annex III which  we will monitor through to publication. We will be working closely with the organisations who hold the datasets.

But what is a priority dataset? Well there aren't any hard and fast rules but things to consider include:  

Are there datasets directly referenced in an INSPIRE data specification?

For example the Protected Sites specification directly references data for NATURA 2000 sites.

Is there a high user demand?

This is quite hard to measure,  but we do have some sources of intelligence, primarily from our discussions with stakeholders.  Other resources like the ODUG Data Request service also help.

Forms, or has potential to form, a core reference geography

Core reference geographies will be key to delivering INSPIRE data that is easy for the end user to consume and efficient to publish.  For example for the Addresses Theme in Annex I, we quickly realised that the most efficient way of delivering the theme would be to publish the National Address Gazetteer (through AddressBase)  and their Scottish and Northern Ireland equivalents.  This removed the need for local authorities to publish the data individually, saving them time and money.

Quick wins

Some Annex III datasets are already published. We are considering on a case by case basis if these could be the priority datasets so reducing the need to monitor the relevant themes.

Existing aggregations

These are a bit like the core reference geographies. If data is already aggregated in a service why require the data to be republished?  We are working with a number of aggregators to publish the central holding, again reducing burdens on individual organisations. More on this in a future blog.


We are currently undertaking a lot of research to produce an initial list of priority datasets against which we will monitor progress.

The list will change over time as our knowledge grows and priorities change.

We need your help

If you have any thoughts on what should be on the list, or indeed on the approach, please share them below or drop me a line via the Helpdesk.

Datasets not on our priority list will still need to be published. The Defra INSPIRE team will still be helping by providing guidance, support, regular communications and events. We will also share as much as we can, as soon as we can, about the approaches we are taking for each theme, particularly where this might negate the need for organisations to do anything! 

A word on Local Government

The Local Government Association have been working with us to identify what datasets local authorities hold that are within scope of INSPIRE and we have done a further review to prioritise these datasets. We will be sharing more information on this work soon, but in the meantime local authorities should continue to review their own data and produce metadata for their spatial datasets.


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  1. Comment by Karina Bradley posted on

    I have been to an INSPIRE workshop and I am aware of what it is and the reasons for it, but is there nowhere that says: within Local Government this is the data in Annexe III that you should have, this is what you have to do, and by this date. And more to the point, what are the consequences if we do not meet the requirements by the deadline.

    With regard to above, how soon is soon?

    • Replies to Karina Bradley>

      Comment by PeterWain posted on

      I'd also like some Plain English answers to Karina's questions.

      • Replies to PeterWain>

        Comment by jon grocutt posted on

        As would I.

        • Replies to jon grocutt>

          Comment by AndNewmanGeo posted on

          "Hopefully the answer above helps, Andrew"


      • Replies to PeterWain>

        Comment by AndNewmanGeo posted on

        Hopefully the answer above helps, Andrew

    • Replies to Karina Bradley>

      Comment by PeterWain posted on

      I'm not sure whether anyone is monitoring this post as there haven't been any answers. However, I do note that under the Local Government heading above it does say that 'We will be sharing more information on this work soon'. I'm hoping that we'll eventually receive a simple list of datasets which need INSPIREing...

      • Replies to PeterWain>

        Comment by AndNewmanGeo posted on

        Sorry for the delay Peter, hopefully the answer above helps

    • Replies to Karina Bradley>

      Comment by AndNewmanGeo posted on

      Hi Karina,

      Sorry for the delay in replying.

      The best place to start to find out more about INSPIRE is getting started:

      LGA are currently finalising the local gov. dataset list I will chase them. but they can be contacted at But please note that the list won't be of individual datasets we can't provide that as every LA has different data structures, etc.

      Hope this helps, if not drop us a line at


  2. Comment by BenAllan posted on

    It would be great as well to get guidance over the need for a download service.  Your blog suggests that download services need to be in place by this December.  But the INSPIRE portal suggest 2015. Which is correct?