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Charging Policy and Data Services

Introduction

The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC) offers a variety of services to external organisations and individuals including data searches, licencing of digital data for commercial and non-commercial use, data analysis and other projects.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) cover the supply of environmental information.  Under EIR, public authorities, of which BMERC is a part, are required to make environmental information available on request. The EIR allow BMERC to charge a reasonable amount for making the information available to applicants.

BMERC charges commercial clients for these services to recover the cost of managing, processing and extracting the data and producing presentable results.  Any charges are not for the data itself and do not transfer any of data ownership or copyright.

BMERC does not usually charge for data searches for non-commercial clients.

BMERC’s charges are subject to an annual review, and any changes are usually implemented on 1st April at the start of the financial year.

Data services will not commence without the agreement of the requesting individual or organisation. This agreement covers the following, all of which will be made clear beforehand:

  1. The terms and conditions applicable to the data services describing the responsibilities of both parties. Here are the Standard Data Search Terms and Conditions, other terms will vary according to the services.

  2. The charges for the data services, see Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 below.

  3. The outputs of the data services, i.e. what will be delivered by BMERC

  4. The delivery schedule

BMERC chargeable services

BMERC undertakes these main types of data services:

  • Data searches – the provision of species records, habitat and site information (including maps of these features) which relate to specific locations or search areas. There are two types of searches:
    • Standard Data Searches, carried out via partner My LERC, mainly for commercial clients
    • Custom Data Searches, mainly carried out by BMERC, usually involving larger search areas and/or specific species or species groups.
  • Service Level Agreements - longer term agreements with partner organisations to supply data on a regular or ad hoc basis.
  • Data Exchange Agreements – the exchange of species records habitat and site information with local or national groups, usually these will be an exchange of species records with recording groups. There is normally no charge associated with these agreements as they are for mutual benefit.
  • Commissioned projects – the undertaking of wildlife information management tasks of a greater time and geographic scale.

Clients, services and associated charges

BMERC serves different types of clients.  A broad description of each, together with the applicable charges and discounts is shown below.  Details of the charges and discounts can be found in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.

1.     Commercial data users

This includes consultants, solicitors, agents, landowners and developers seeking information for development or commercial management of land. Standard charges and rates normally apply for these searches.  Standard Data Searches are used for most transactions.

 2.     Service Level Agreement Partners

Partners are considered to be all of the local authorities and agencies with which Service Level Agreements and Memoranda of Agreement with BMERC have been established.  The scope of services to be provided and the associated charges will be specified in the agreements.  Partner Discounts apply to these agreements and most other services.

3.     Non-commercial organisations

This includes conservation charities (e.g. BBOWT, RSPB), statutory agencies, government departments (e.g. the Ministry of Defence), non-departmental public bodies (e.g. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology).

  • Data searches will be undertaken using either Partner Discounts or Non-commercial individual and group Discounts at the discretion of BMERC.
  • Commissioned projects Partner Discounts will apply.

4.     Non-commercial individuals and groups

This includes members of the public, volunteer wildlife recorders, natural history societies, local and national recording schemes, landowners looking to manage their land for nature conservation, students, academics and other researchers. 

  • Data searches Non-commercial individual and group Discounts will normally apply.
    If appropriate, any material costs generated through the data provision service (e.g. postage, photocopying) may be invoiced, and charges will be made clear before the search in undertaken. Donations for non-commercial data are also warmly welcomed.
  • Commissioned projects Partner Discounts will apply.

5.     Parish Councils

Parish Councils seeking environmental information to support a Parish Plan are able to use a special rate provided in the Standard Data Search options below.  Other requests from Parish Councils for data will be categorised as one of the above depending on the type of request.

 

Appendix 1: Charges for Standard Data Services

Fees for Standard Data Searches

Package A – from £134 + VAT:   1km Search – Notable Species, Statutory Sites, Local Non-statutory Sites & Priority Habitats within a 1km buffer of a specified point or site boundary.

Package B – from £186 + VAT:   2km Search – Notable Species, Statutory Sites, Local Non-statutory Sites & Priority Habitats within a 2km buffer of a specified point or site boundary.

Package C - £52 + VAT:               Parish Boundary Search – Notable Species, Statutory Sites, Local Non-statutory Sites & Priority Habitats within the Parish Boundary.

Package D – No Charge:             500m Notable Species – Notable species records within a 500m buffer of a specified point, for non-commercial customers only, not suitable for planning applications.

Package E – £83 + VAT:             2km Bat Species Search - Bat Species only within 2km of a point.  Please note this search is only suitable for small single property developments, e.g. loft conversions.  It is the ecologist’s responsibility to determine if this search is sufficient to meet planning requirements.  See Ecological data for planning page.

Custom Searches - £quote                Searches for larger areas, specific species or species groups, habitats for sites can be performed.  The Fees for these will depend on the search area and data required and whether for a commercial client.  These require a bespoke quotation.     

Optionally, an additional larger search area for a single species or species group (e.g. bats) can be added to Packages A and B from £31 + VAT.

Additional Information on Standard Data Searches

  1. Charges vary according to the total search area. For example, the charge for a site boundary with a 1km buffer will be more than a point with a 1km buffer.

  2. Where the total search area is more than the equivalent to a circle of 3km radius (c28km²) a Custom Search will be required.

  3. Where the search is centred outside the BMERC boundary, the Charge will be based on the search area within the BMERC boundary. Note that charges will be scaled down, in proportion to the search area, to a minimum charge of £52.00 + VAT.

  4. Where a Data Search return no records, an administrative fee of £52.00 + VAT will be charged.

  5. The results will be available via an eMapper link for six months from the date the search was commissioned. After this period the link may be extended as follows:

a. An eMapper link may be updated with no refresh of data such that the Expiry date is not later than 12 months from the original Search Date. The charge for extending the link will be 50% of the original search fee.  If a Client wishes to extend the link Expiry Date beyond 12 months a data refresh will be required in accordance with CIEEM guidelines.

b. An eMapper link may be updated at any point after the Expiry Date providing the data is refreshed. The charge for this will be 50% of the original search fee. 

c. Any search can be extended up to two (2) years from the original submission date.

d. If an extension is requested more than two (2) years after the original request date or there are any changes to the search parameters, a new Data Search at the prevailing rates will be required.

  1. A quotation for a Custom Search will be made within 3 working days of receiving sufficient information about the search required.

  2. If the Custom Search can be provided using Orca, the results will be provided within one working day of acceptance of the quotation.

  3. If the Custom Search is provided by BMERC, the time to provide the results will be stated with the quotation, this will normally be within 10 working days.

Cross boundary searches

BMERC is pleased to offer cross-boundary searches with:

  • Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Recording and Monitoring Centre (BRMC)
  • Hertfordshire Environmental Records Centre (HERC)

providing clients with a cheaper alternative with less administration than ordering separately.  It is hoped to extend this further in future.  The principles are:

  • The data search is placed with the Local Environmental Records Centre (LERC) where the search is centred.

  • That LERC (The lead LERC) will offer the option to get data from both LERCs for a single charge. That charge will be the same as if the whole search area was within the lead LERC area, i.e. no premium is charged for the service.

  • Subject to your agreement to the Terms and Conditions of both LERCs:

    • the lead LERC will run the search for their area and return the results to you.

    • the lead LERC will pass details of your request to the other LERC who will send their data directly to you using their standard output mechanism. 

  • The Lead LERC will invoice for the whole search on completion of their portion of the search.

  • Note that cross-boundary searches are only available as standard when the search area is less than 13.2 km2 (equivalent to a 2.05km radius circle)

If you prefer, you can still purchase data separately from both parties, albeit that this will involve 2 invoices and be more expensive.    

Appendix 2: Charges for other services

Discount levels

The following discount levels will be applied, according to the services and client as specified above.

Discount type

Discount %

Partner Discount

up to 30%

Non-commercial individual and group Discount

up to 100%

Rates for general services

The following standard rates apply to general services and most project work.

  • Hourly rate £113.00   
             
  • Daily rate   £484.00            

Rates for Custom Data Searches and data supplied under Digital Data Licences handled by BMERC

It is assumed that the vast majority of data searches will be handled using the Standard Data Searches

Other Custom Data Searches will be handled by BMERC.  The charges will be calculated using:

  • The area to be searched
  • The data required, e.g. which types of site, habitat and species data.
  • The time the data is required for i.e. how many times the data will need to be refreshed
  • The format in which the data is required, e.g. data supplied in GIS shapefile takes longer to prepare and will need to be supplied using a bespoke Digital Data Licence.
  • Any discounts applicable to the client will then be applied.

Service Level Agreement charges

The scope of services for Service Level Agreements with partner organisations varies hugely.  Most include providing data, as for Data Searches, and they often some general services or project work.

Charges for Service Level Agreements are calculated using the methods, rates and discounts above as they apply to the services contained therein.

Appendix 3: Additional Information

  1. BMERC has entered into an agreement with Cofnod, trading as My LERC, the Environmental Records Centre for North Wales, to provide a data searches services for BMERC using their Orca system. This offers a significant improvement in the service for our clients and offers:

  • a number of standard data search packages meeting over 85% of commercial data search requests

  • a self-service web-based client interface

  • spatial searches of sites, habitats and species records

  • results returned within 24 hours, often within 2 hours (the previous turnaround was up to 10 working days).

  • results will be provided via an interactive eMapper link allowing clients to select and filter data to print maps and download reports.

  • automated invoicing and includes collection of Fees

       The split of responsibilities is as follows: 

Responsibility

BMERC

My LERC

Collection, verification and management of original data records

     X

 

Setting of Fees and associated terms and conditions

     X

 

Provision of BMERC web searches (data provided by BMERC)

 

     X

Invoicing and collection of fees for searches on behalf of BMERC

 

     X

 

  1. Time spent by BMERC in negotiating service requirements and output deadlines for either data searches or commissioned projects with clients prior to an agreement is not chargeable.

  2. Charges are invoiced following completion of a Data Search or at points specified in the relevant Agreement or Licence. Payment terms as specified on invoice. 

  3. Changes to charges will be approved using the relevant Buckinghamshire Council procedures and will reviewed by BMERC Steering Group. The charges and this policy will be published on the BMERC website.  Where possible, one month’s notice of changes will be provided to commercial clients

  4. Other than in exceptional circumstances, charges will be maintained throughout a business year and will be effective for that business year.

  5. Details of data searches and other partner and service agreements will not be passed on to any third party, except for information relating to Standard Data Searches which is held by BMERC’s partner, Cofnod, who will not pass it further on.

  6. Data searches are subject to standard Terms and Conditions which are published on the Data Searches web pages.  

Last updated 7th September 2021