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© Crown copyright 2012
Liberalisation of Ordnance Survey (OS) data in 2010 — one of Gordon Brown's last acts as Prime Minister — included the freeing up of UK postcode data: previously, organisations wanting to use postcodes had to pay handsomely for the privilege, and pass the cost onto their customers. We've taken advantage of this opportunity to import almost 1.7 million postcodes and their co-ordinates into our database. This has allowed us to add a "nearest postcode" entry to our GB site pages, which we hope will be useful, for example, to sat nav owners. For an example, see our new Featured Site, the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve. (Incidentally, we've also added links to Where's the Path?, a handy little website that shows OS mapping side-by-side with a zoomable aerial photograph of the area.)

Bird News Extra subscribers will also find they can now specify their desired positions using postcodes, rather than having to work out the equivalent OS grid reference, on our Nearby page www.birdguides.com/nearby. Similarly, Bird News Anywhere subscribers can use postcodes to specify their own set of "personal sites" for quick access to local bird news in favourite areas — see here.

NB. Although they usually locate a nearby habitation, and thus often the nearest road, bear in mind that postcodes are calculated automatically "as the crow flies", and should be used in consultation with available mapping. No right of access to the location indicated is implied, and no liability is accepted for the results of using this data. Unfortunately, the data does not include postcodes in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012
Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and database right 2012

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The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (6)

Superb Info
   Dean Eades, 01/11/12 20:13Report inappropriate post Report 
Excellent news. I particularly like the way you've allowed links to the Where's the Path? which is very useful.
   Tony Powell, 01/11/12 21:05Report inappropriate post Report 
Better than nothing but postcodes can span more than one tetrad or 1km square so not terribly helpful for county/society recorders.
   David Williams, 02/11/12 14:39Report inappropriate post Report 
Hi David - if we're given an OS grid reference for a particular bird, we include it in full, with a link to a map, in the text of the report (with the other details, visible to subscribers) and it's included in the information we pass nightly to the BTO and thence to recorders. The postcodes described here are provided on a per-site, rather than a per-record, basis and are just an extra aid to people (particularly drivers) visiting the named site; they're not intended to locate any particular bird and they're not aimed at recorders. Much as we'd love to include a specific grid reference for every bird we report, only a minority of contributors provide one, and there's generally not enough detail for us reliably to determine a precise 6-figure grid reference ourselves from the information we're given (even if we had time).
   Dave Dunford (admin), 02/11/12 16:45
Whatever happened to the old birder's skill of map-reading? Has it really gone out of the window along with fieldcraft? Maybe I'm just getting too old!
   Ian Kerr, 03/11/12 18:06Report inappropriate post Report 
Gordon Browns' initiative saw the Ordnance Survey (OS) deliver a portfolio of several mapping datasets alongside the postcodes talked of here. "OS OpenData" is all freely available to anyone requesting it though the drawback for most will be that its not delivered as a map on a piece of paper, but in electronic form. The rub being that its format will not necessarily be easy for the majority of users to import into whatever system they are wanting to use it in. Nonetheless, there are some really excellent mapbases available now, so check out the OS website for "OpenData".
   Steve H, 05/11/12 22:54Report inappropriate post Report 

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