Category Archives: Children

Project to tackle unseen heavy-metal pollution in China

COMMENT: Unseen pollution is one of the real impacts of urban living; when children are affected, action is taken…. China’s Five Year Plan http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/7171088.htmlmay be a ‘green light’ in the government’s real desire to take action!? However – is it too little too late?

“More than 30 major heavy-metal poisoning incidents have occurred since 2009, posing a grave threat to public health, especially to children,” .

“Unlike conventional water or air pollutants, heavy-metal pollution is usually invisible to the public, and has to be monitored with professional equipment,” …”This will require an effective and sound supervisory system from local governments, as well as more public transparency on pollution data.”

BEIJING – A long-awaited project to tackle heavy-metal pollution has been approved by the State Council as part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

The national blueprint for 2015 has set an emission-reduction target for five heavy metals, in key polluted areas, by 15 percent from 2007 levels, Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian, told a televised conference on Friday.

The metals are lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and arsenic.

There have been a number of high-profile cases involving heavy-metal poisoning in recent years.

The first national pollution census, published in 2010, shows that China discharged 900 tons of the five metals in 2007.

The ministry listed 138 target zones in 14 provinces and regions, including the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

A total of 4,452 enterprises, including non-ferrous metal mines, smelters, lead-acid battery manufacturers, leather producers and the chemical industry, are listed as major monitoring targets.

The list was made after an intensive nationwide survey of more than 110,000 enterprises, conducted jointly by nine ministries at the end of 2010, according to Zhou.

Provincial governments are requested to work out their specific plans and targets by the first of half of 2011. Local officials who fail to enforce the targets will be held responsible.

Zhou estimated a total of 75 billion yuan ($11.41 billion) over the next five years will be needed to address the pollution.

The breakneck expansion of heavy-metal industries, outdated technology and a lack of effective monitoring are cited as the main reasons for the pollution.

“More than 30 major heavy-metal poisoning incidents have occurred since 2009, posing a grave threat to public health, especially to children,” Zhou said.

Excessive levels of heavy metal in humans can cause irreversible harm. The toxic elements accumulate in organs over time, leading to chronic disease.

Zhou said tackling violations by battery manufacturers will be a major focus this year.

In the latest case in January, more than 200 children were found with excessive concentrations of lead in their blood in Huaining county, Anhui province, the result of emissions from a nearby battery factory.

“Our investigation shows that the enterprise faked environmental review documents, and the local government’s lax monitoring was also to blame,” Zhou said.

As a punishment, the ministry has suspended approval for any new projects involving heavy-metal in Anqing city, which administers Huaining county.

“The blueprint shows the determination from the central government to deal with the problem, following a number of recent incidents,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

A recent report by Nanjing Agricultural University said research in 2007 found 10 percent of rice samples collected from markets were found to have excessive levels of cadmium.

“Unlike conventional water or air pollutants, heavy-metal pollution is usually invisible to the public, and has to be monitored with professional equipment,” said Ma, “This will require an effective and sound supervisory system from local governments, as well as more public transparency on pollution data.”

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/greenchina/2011-02/19/content_12043484.htm

http://twitter.com/#!/China_Daily

http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/

Oil spill equals bad news; Red Kites signal improving biodiversity in our towns

In the school in the Chilterns where I have been supply teaching, the red kites ‘play’ in the thermals …. a sign that wildlife is once again returning to parts of the United Kingdom. Nature’s Place in Town is being restored, to the benefit of both Children and Nature!  These provide excellent examples of how this magnificent species can live with others and alongside humans – ironically, also showing how us – humans – almost drove them to extinction! That’s environmental education  in action!  

 Red kites were almost extinct in the UK by the early 1900s, reduced to very low numbers in Wales. In the last two decades, they have been re-introduced to England and Scotland, with magnificent results.

Nest Watch

Between 2003 and 2008 the Chilterns Conservation Board ran a red kite ‘Nest Watch’ project, to bring the public up close and personal with a family of red kites. The project used Big Brother style CCTV technology to get an insight into the breeding behaviour of a pair of red kites, as they built their nest, laid and incubated eggs and reared their chicks. The following clips reveal the highs and lows of family life.

http://www.chilternsaonb.org/caring/red_kites_nestwatch.html

Red kites were almost extinct in the UK by the early 1900s, reduced to very low numbers in Wales. In the last two decades, they have been re-introduced to England and Scotland, with magnificent results.

 Species status 

  • Phase of recovery: Recovery 
  • Amber list Bird of Conservation Concern      

Almost lost

Red kites were persecuted to extinction throughout the UK, with the exception of Wales, during the 19th century. In Wales, during the 20th century, the small population was carefully protected, and red kites have slowly increased in numbers and range since the Second World War.   Bringing them back

In 1989 a re-introduction programme was set up by the RSPB and the Nature Conservancy Council because of concerns about the slow rate of population expansion in Wales, and the improbability of natural re-colonisation of other suitable parts of the UK by red kites from Wales or the continent.  In England, red kites have been re-introduced to four areas since 1989: the Chilterns, East Midlands, Yorkshire and north-east England. The first birds were brought from Spain, but as the Chilterns population grew quickly it produced enough young birds to donate small numbers to establish populations in the other areas. The final project, Northern Kites near Gateshead in north-east England, began in 2004. 

Red kites were brought from Sweden and Germany to North and Central Scotland, and breeding populations have been successfully established. In Dumfries & Galloway, 100 red kites were brought from the Chilterns and North Scotland, and breeding is now becoming regular.

Effective partnership 

The RSPB, together with its partners, has worked hard to ensure local support for the red kite reintroduction projects.  It has been important to reassure landowners and gamekeepers that red kites pose no risk to game shooting interests or livestock. Most have seen this for themselves, and are now proud to have kites nesting on their land, protecting them and monitoring their success.

 Christopher Ussher, resident agent at the Harewood Estate, was quoted in Shooting Times and Country Magazine as saying: ‘Initially we received comments from neighbours about how the birds would affect the estate, but there is no conflict at all.’ 

Support from local residents has been important too and we have often started by visiting schools, inviting children to see kites being released and helping them with associated project work. The children find out that kites are exciting and spectacular birds and share their enthusiasm with family and friends. 

Local economies have benefited from ‘kite country’ green tourism initiatives. Touring red kite trails have been set up, and enterprising farmers have set up kite-feeding stations which draw high numbers of visitors. 

A bright future 

The prospects for red kites in the UK are extremely good, with increasing numbers at most of the release locations. The population in Wales has increased to over 400 pairs and populations in most of the release areas in Scotland and England are already self-sustaining. This is particularly welcome as the European red kite population has declined dramatically and is now listed as globally-threatened by the IUCN/BirdLife International. In the UK, only in northern Scotland do we have serious concerns about the future. Numerous incidents of illegal poisoning appear to be preventing the population from increasing.

The same number of red kites were released in the Chilterns as in North Scotland between 1989 and 1993, but while the Chilterns population has grown to over 200 pairs, the north Scottish population has remained at only 35 pairs. The population produces lots of young, but fewer survive and so the population has stopped growing. 

Here we will be moving a small number of birds over the next five years to a new area to the north-east to hasten recovery of red kites in that area. We believe persecution is the main limiting factor in north Scotland, and we are carrying out a persecution study, using radiotelemetry to identify persecution hot spots. We are working with Police wildlife crime officers to track down those responsible. 

Acknowledgements 

The original re-introduction projects were developed by the RSPB, English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage. The Gateshead release project ‘Northern Kites’ is run by the RSPB and English Nature. Other partners are Gateshead Council, Northumbrian Water, National Trust and Forestry Commission England, and we have funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and SITA Environmental Trust. 

In the English Midlands, a public viewing scheme is run at a Forestry Commission England visitor centre. In the Chilterns red kites are monitored by the Southern England Kite Group, who assist in translocation of birds for other re-introduction areas. In Yorkshire, the release project was a collaboration between the RSPB, EN, Harewood Estate and Yorkshire Water. 

In Scotland, reintroduction projects have been carried out in collaboration with SNH, Forestry Commission Scotland and the Scottish Raptor Study Groups. We have also received funding for kite work from LEADER+, and Making Tracks. 

In Wales, we are grateful to the Welsh Kite Trust who monitor many of the nesting pairs.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/species/casestudies/redkite.asp

A race abusing an animal for its own purpose… Dr Who: humans v the environment?

Dr who saving the environment? Whether or not you are a Dr Who fan or into Sci Fi at all, it is hard not to see the parallells. After all, ‘explore new worlds and new forms of life’, often because Planet Earth has become  decimnated and is now ‘unliveable’. Sound familiar/like the environmental castastrophe at its worst case scenario? this is actually from ‘star trek’

In this episode the population of Planet UK  is living on a floating scenario, in ‘levels’ – basically skyscrapers. The ‘planet’ is travelling through space with the aid of and on the back of a giant whale-type creature.

Two issues:

1. In order to cope with a expanding population, would we be willing to live in a skyscaper? 

2. Is it, any circumstances, morally accetable to use an animal for human endeavour (essentially, ‘vivisection’)?

What do you think?

Dr Who Offical Website http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw

The Guardian’s response: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2010/apr/10/doctor-who-the-beast-below 

“Is that how it works, Doctor, you don’t interfere with affairs of peoples or planets unless there’s children crying?”

Amy Pond’s maiden voyage is, on the surface at least, one for the kids. It’s all broad flourishes charged with the childlike wonder of seeing outer space for the first time. And the sight of a spaceship in a far future full of London Underground logos and modern-day school uniforms is the sort of thing that gets fans past puberty into wailing paroxysms of “No! The 29th century just isn’t like that!” (Granted, that might just be me.)

The Beast Below looks for all the world like a RTD story: a Technicolor morality play light on intricate plotting and heavy on modern moral parallels. But Moffat still conjures some magical ideas and takes the characters exactly where they need to go – rather than simply going in the Starship UK and putting the bad thing right, relationships are tested and solidified by differing reactions to what’s going on in there. With echoes of Donna Noble’s “Sometimes I think you need someone to stop you,” it’s only Amy who works out that once again (and this is becoming a Moffat trope) nobody has to die. Amy’s not nearly as badass this week – although you wouldn’t be, would you?

The anti-vivisection message does seem to get lost somewhere along the way – the ship’s inhabitants seem to get off with little more than a ticking off and a promise never to be so beastly ever again. But manatees are just inherently funny. Four out of five, we’re saying.

“You don’t ever decide what I need to know!”

The rage with which the Doctor reacts to a mistake that Amy doesn’t even remember making comes as a timely reminder of the weight of responsibility he carries, and that his instincts aren’t necessarily human, or even humane – something that definitely got lost toward the end of the Tennant era. (Tennant would also have given the poor girl a chance to get dressed – and he was supposed to be the all-hands Doctor.)

Neither does the Doctor fully understand things, or even himself, right away. The whole story hinges on Amy recognising in the starwhale, as in the Doctor, “something old and that kind, and alone”. It looks like that’s how the relationship between the Doctor and Amy is going to play out – which is just as well, seeing that as well as having those space-manatee qualities, this Doctor also thinks its sensible to pickpocket little girls in corridors for clues.

Who is most pro-environment? And the best for education? The parties and their policies….

Yesterday the Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched the election 2010 campaign. But what do the three main political parties and what they stand for regarding the environment and education – key issues for readers of this blog. 

MY OVERALL VIEW: Each party seems to have a mixed bag of positives and ideas that are not so pro-environment or education. With some oustanding efforts, particularly at Copenhagen, Labour has for me lost their way re the environment somewhat. A ban on fox hunting, lack of joined up thinking on a low-carbon environment (Transition Towns) and the ‘environment’ is not at the heart of the curriculum eg. lack of adequate funding re school trips – as illustarted in a previous blog. Conservatives relaunch to be the ‘pro-environment party’ yet the ‘environment’ again not at the heart of the curriculum. Hoorah for their Heathrow policy yet they would repeal the ban on fox hunting! The Lib Dems are positively focussed on ending our  over-reliance on Nuclear power, with promises of investment in renewable energy and the ‘Green Grid’. But will they ever get enough votes to gain power or do we need a change in the form of ‘proportional representation’. Or otherwise, a major change in the form of the Greens?  

And what do you think? 

Source: The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/where-the-parties-stand-education-1930588.html

Environment

Labour  http://www2.labour.org.uk/home is promising the make the transition towards a low-carbon economy that would not only tackle climate change but also provide large numbers of new green jobs, with the aim of seeing 1.2m people in environment-related employment by the end of the current decade. The party aims to give a quarter of British homes a full eco-makeover by 2020 and to install a smart meter in every home, also by 2020, making it easier to cut energy use and save money on bills; to give a further six million households help with insulation by 2012, and to have phased out high-energy light bulbs in favour of energy efficient ones by next year. The party would also continue with major efforts to tackle climate change internationally. Labour would maintain the ban on fox hunting, which the Tories would seek to repeal.

MY VIEW: With some oustanding efforts, partuicularly at Copenhagen, labour has for me lost their way re the environment somewhat. Good: Climate change and ban on fox hunting. Unconvinced re low-carbon (lack of joined up thinking )http://www.transitionnetwork.org/ and environment not at the heart of the curriculum http://www.naee.org.uk/eg. lack of adequate funding re school trips – see previous blog

What do you you think?

See full size image

David Cameron rebranded the Tory Party http://www.conservatives.com/with a green paintbrush but there are signs – watched anxiously by environmentalists – that the environment is losing its allure for the party. Although they back the current Government’s climate change targets for cutting carbon emissions and want restrictions on coal-fired power stations, they have yet to endorse publicly its renewable energy programme for building windfarms (not popular in the shires). Their most prominent green selling point at the moment is their pledge to cancel the planned third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, and replace it with a high-speed rail line to the north. On the countryside, they would bring in a bill to repeal the Hunting Act 2004, the measure that outlawed foxhunting, and allow a free vote on it in government time.

MY VIEW: Unconvinced relaunch to be the ‘pro-environment party'; environment still not at the heart of the curriculum. Good: Heathrow. Bad: repealing ban on fox hunting.

What do you you think?

Most distinctively, the Lib Dems http://www.libdems.org.uk/home.aspx would scrap the move towards new nuclear power, which has been endorsed by the other main parties as part of their strategy to combat climate change, on the grounds that there are no plans yet to dispose of the new waste arisings and there will have to be a massive public subsidy to build any new plants. Instead, the party promises a massive programme of investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power, and ways to make the cost of energy less of a burden, with a fair social tariff system for disadvantaged families. On the countryside, the Lib Dems promise to promote schemes to enhance wildlife, such as a “Green National Grid“, which would link the habitats of rare species.

 MY VIEW: Good: end Nuclear power over-reliance (though this is a large debate!), renewable energy and Green Grid. Will they ever get enough local votes to get into power…need proportional representation.   

What do you you think?

Education

Labour would introduce a new school report card system – grading all schools on a range of issues such as exam performance, children’s wellbeing and behaviour. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has said he believes they would give more information to parents than the current league tables based on raw results. Parents would also be given the power to ballot on a change of leadership if enough of them were concerned about the way their children’s school was being run. Labour has also indicated it is willing to see the controversial external national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds replaced by teacher assessments if the these prove robust enough.

MY VIEW: Unconvinced: Government has spent last years bringing in ever-more strategies and directives, putting more pressure on already over-worked teacheers. Bad: card system (not more paper work, please!) and parents having more power. Good: scrap tests.  

What do you you think?

Tories Sweeping changes to the education system with the adoption of a Swedish-style education system whereby parents, teachers, universities and faith groups would be encouraged to set up their own independent “free” schools. In addition, all schools ranked outstanding by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, would be given the right to become academies from September. Their heads would also be encouraged to take over failing schools in a bid to turn them round. An Education Bill to bring in these changes would be brought in immediately after the election. Moves to boost the quality of teaching would see stricter entry requirements for the profession with only those with a 2:2 degree or above qualifying for teacher training places. On discipline, appeals against exclusions would be abolished and the final word on disciplinary problems would rest with the headteacher. 

MY VIEW: Unconvinced by what seems a very mixed bag of ideas Good: Worth trying the swedish system; exclusions idea. Bad: 2:2 degree – qualifications do make for better teachers!   

What do you you think?

 The key pledge in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto will be to introduce a “pupil premium” – which will mean schools get extra cash for every pupil on free school meals they take on. The £2.5bn plan, which would mean an extra £2,500 per pupil for schools, would be funded from tax credits and would aim to provide an incentive to heads to enrol pupils from poor families. The party would also return to the exam system envisaged by the former chief schools inspector Sir Mike Tomlinson – with an overarching diploma covering both academic and vocational qualifications. The party is also committed to abolishing top-up fees for students of £3,240 a year – although it acknowledges that economic circumstances may prevent it from implementing this pledge in the short term.

MY VIEW: Good: Pupil premium could work; academic and vocational useful differentiated focus for young people who are not ‘academic’  

What do you you think?

Maps online help get young people and families outdoors – and that’s good news!

As reported in The Independent yesterday: Campaigners calling for greater availability of official data were joined by lovers of the British countryside in hailing a partial victory against the venerable state-mapping company, after it agreed to offer free and unrestricted access to most of its maps online.

MY VIEW: Maps, those strange sheets with lots of starnge symbols on them that Scout Leaders love to pour over and some folks struggle to ever come to grips with, are one key way of getting people to do a number of otherwise difficult and near-impossible things:

* aiding proper navigation of the natural and built environment

* increasing safety, reducing the likehood of people becoming lost (or, at least these people ‘know’ where they are!)

* engaging and encouraging people – esp young people – to get outdoors, improving their knowledge of the countryside they are moving through.

* This means less people indoors, and more outdoors, resulting healthy young people. This is exactly what movements such as ‘No Child Inside’ http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=687  and the ‘Children and Nature Network’  http://www.childrenandnature.org/ are all about. 

Anything that achieves the above has to be good. Whilst I respect the concept of protecting some of the download rights regarding some maps – I personally prefer a physical map in my hands, but do find the cost steep at times! – I think having a good range of map resources able to be searched for and downloaded, a good move.

The RAMBLERS think the Government has ‘lost it’s nerve’. What do you think??

OS Free map scheme won’t unleash the benefits of walking

1st April 2010

“Government lost its nerve on releasing Landranger and Explorer maps”

Ramblers have cautiously welcomed a scheme announced today that makes Ordnance Survey mapping data free to the public, but are disappointed that standard walkers maps have been left out of the package.

Until today, every bit of Ordnance Survey mapping had to be paid for under complex and expensive licensing arrangements (1)Following a consultation earlier this year, the ‘‘OS OpenData’ scheme, launched today by the Department of Communities and Local Government, will make mapping such as the 1:10 000 scale Street View digital street atlas freely available for public use and re-use. This means anyone can use the mapping as a “base” to add their own information such as walking routes or the location of services.

But the free datasets will not include digital versions of 1:25 000 Explorer and 1:50 000 Landranger maps – currently the only maps showing much important information for walkers and the standard choice for navigating on foot in rural areas.

The Ramblers, who urged the Government to fund free standard mapping data during the consultation last year, have expressed extreme disappointment that their suggestions have been ignored.

Ramblers Chief Executive, Tom Franklin, comments: “While Street View and some of the other free data will be useful and this is a step in the right direction, we’re very disappointed that the government apparently lost its nerve with releasing Landranger and Explorer.

“These maps provide a familiar view of the walking environment for many millions of walkers and making them free for re-use, would have provided the easiest and most effective way to enable keen volunteers to share their walking knowledge with others.

“We know one of the reasons people don’t walk more is that they don’t know good places to walk, and access to mapping is essential in overcoming that barrier. And more people walking more often is something the government agrees is a good thing, helping tackle obesity and even climate change.”

These maps were included in the original proposals for free mapping. The Ramblers urged the government to release them to help organisations promote attractive and accessible local walking routes, a vital tool in encouraging a healthier and more active lifestyle. Ramblers called on the government to take account of the wider social benefits of mapping, such as its role in supporting active travel to the benefit of public health and the environment.

THE INDY’s EDITORIAL

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-lines-on-a-map-1933790.html

There is something intoxicatingly romantic about an old Ordnance Survey map. They are redolent of the aromas of childhood; not just the musty smell of an ancient linen-backed tourist edition, but the way the gently water-coloured lines rise up in brown peaks from green valleys.

 But they are precision tools of the present too, as a modern 1:50,000 map of any contemporary British city will show, which is why the OS website nearly went into meltdown yesterday when the public was allowed free and unrestricted access to most of its maps online for the first time.

THE ARTICLE IN FULL

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/os-maps-no1-in-the-charts-since-1747-1934059.html

British wildernesses may be few and far between nowadays, but the urge to experience nature in the raw remains a primal impulse among the nation’s hikers, bikers and fitness enthusiasts. And for anyone looking to venture into the great outdoors this weekend, an Ordnance Survey (OS) map remains the prerequisite piece of kit to be packed alongside an apple, a cagoul and a box of corned beef and pickle sandwiches to ensure a safe return from a day yomping across hill and dale.

Yesterday campaigners calling for greater availability of official data were joined by lovers of the British countryside in hailing a partial victory against the venerable state-mapping company, after it agreed to offer free and unrestricted access to most of its maps online.

The landmark decision by the OS followed a long public consultation designed to open up information sources gathered at the taxpayer’s expense and to make them available to a new generation of users without charge. Among those welcoming the initiative was the creator of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who has been advising Gordon Brown on ways to liberate the Government’s vast data banks to a new wave of entrepreneurs who, it is hoped, may be able to use them to create cutting-edge industries.

Ministers were forced to waive the long-guarded copyright in response to the huge amount of mapping information already available on the internet free of charge. Services such as Google Earth, Street View and Multimap have revolutionised the way that the public perceives and pays for cartographical information.

OS OpenData http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/opendata/, which went online yesterday, will exist alongside an earlier data-sharing scheme called OS OpenSpace, which is also free to groups looking to create and reproduce their own maps. It has brought an end to the absurdity of schoolchildren having to write for permission to photocopy a map from their public library.

The popularity of the service was immediately evident as the OS website became locked up with users rushing to download maps of their area for the first time.

But not everyone was entirely happy. The Ramblers http://www.ramblers.org.uk/ , a charity which represents Britain’s army of hikers and walkers, criticised the omission of the most popular scale paper maps after it was confirmed that the free datasets would not include digital versions of 1:25,000 Explorer and 1:50,000 Landranger series.

The charity’s chief executive, Tom Franklin, accused the Government of “losing its nerve”. He said: “We know one of the reasons people don’t walk more is that they don’t know good places to walk, and access to mapping is essential in overcoming that barrier. And more people walking more often is something the Government agrees is a good thing, helping tackle obesity and even climate change.”

The OS said the decision to leave out the best-selling paper maps, which retail for anything up to £15 each, was “in the national interest” and could “undermine the continued provision of a nationwide paper map series”.

Today, the geographically curious among us love nothing more than poring over the exquisitely drawn contour lines and triangulation marks of an OS map. Yet while modern-day OS maps may be viewed as documents of peace, beneficial to health and the environment, their origins are soaked in the blood of Jacobite suppression.

According to Dr Richard Oliver’s A Short History of the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain, the first modern maps took shape between 1747 and 1755. Their instigator was an ambitious military officer named Colonel David Watson, who served with the Army and also the Engineers of the Board of Ordnance. The painstaking work was carried out by the Lanarkshire-born surveyor William Roy, who went on to become the father of modern cartography, and the pioneering water colourist Paul Sandby, who helped turn the first maps into beautifully realised artworks. It was a primitive process by modern satellite-driven standards. The contour line was yet to be invented, and all distances were measured by 66ft lengths of chain.

The Jacobite uprising of 1745 had caused consternation to King George II, who urgently commissioned the Highlands survey as a means of pacifying the insurgent clansmen north of the border. Overseeing the project was the formidable figure of the Duke of Cumberland, later to achieve notoriety as the “Butcher” of Culloden, architect of the murderously one-sided battle where 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded at the cost of just 50 government lives.

Perhaps inevitably, however, it was to be events across the Channel that were to drive the next stage in development. A dispute between the Royal Societies of London and Paris saw the great and the good of the learned bodies try to resolve a long-running disagreement over the relative positions of their astronomical observatories. The system of triangulation settled the debate – a process whereby distances across water and other obstacles were measured for the first time using the angles of a fixed point.

Yet throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, conflict continued to fuel the need for ever more accurate and detailed maps. In England, the first charting of the rolling farmland of Kent and the marshes of Essex appeared amid mounting concern over the prospect of invasion by Napoleon’s forces.

By the time that the Battle of Waterloo was won, everywhere south of Birmingham was mapped. The work was physically demanding and progress was slow. It was not until 1823 that the survey had inched its way northwards armed with the advanced Ramsden theodolite for measuring vertical angles. Thomas Colby, the longest serving Director General of the Ordnance Survey, walked 586 miles in 22 days during one reconnaissance journey.

In 1841, at the time of the railway boom, officials were granted the right by Parliament to enter property in order to measure it. But disputes over which scale to adopt and the distractions of mapping Ireland failed to stem the advance of the theodolite-wielding geodesists, who continued to press ahead with their task and who have been carefully measuring, mapping and remapping the whole of the UK on a near-constant basis ever since.

Dr Christopher Board, chairman of the Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps, said the process of mapping the UK would never be complete and needed to remain largely state-funded. “If you left it to private industry you would find the most popular tourist areas would be mapped regularly and kept up to date, but there would be huge areas of agricultural land, moor or croft that would be left untouched,” he said.

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