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BEIS points to mixed outlook for post-Brexit satellite data


Mark Say Managing Editor

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UK organisations face limitations on the use of data from EU satellite programmes in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

It has outlined the prospects in one of the Government’s new round of notices, in this case focused on satellites and space programmes, on the effects of Britain leaving the EU without a deal next March.

Data from the Copernicus programme – which provides data from a series of satellites around the Earth – is often used by academics, researchers and businesses. If it comes from the programme’s own Sentinel satellites it will remain freely available as it is covered by an open data policy.

But the situation over data from the third party satellites used in the programme is less clear. The paper says the Government is trying to clarify with the European Commission whether the UK will lose access, and whether UK organisations will still be able to bid for Copernicus contracts tendered through the EU.

Impact warning

In addition, it is trying to establish whether European organisations involved in partnering arrangements with the UK will be affects, and the paper warns that UK based users of Copernicus data may wish to consider the impact on their operations of losing access to anything that is not available under the open data policy.

It also outlines the prospects for the UK position in regards to the Galileo global navigation satellite system, reiterating the point that the UK will have no role in the relevant programmes if there is not a Brexit deal. This could create problems in completing existing contracts to use the relevant data.

The Government has already announced that it is ready to invest £92 million in an 18-month programme to design a UK global navigation satellite system as an alternative to Galileo.

The paper has prompted IT industry association techUK to warn of possible problems.

Its chief executive, Julian David, said: “The notice dealing with the space sector confirms what we have known for some time - the UK will lose the ability to participate in European Space programmes.  techUK strongly welcomes the £92 million to design a UK version of the Galileo Navigation Satellite System, but the effects on companies with existing contracts for Galileo remains uncertain.”

Image from NOAA, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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