57 UK Environment web sites to close

July 2nd, 2010 by UKW

The UK Government Cabinet office announced on 24 June 2010 that 75% of the 820+ government web sites will be closed down by 2011 and that the remaining sites should cut costs by 50% and ‘move onto common infrastructures’.

A rationalisation of websites set up by public bodies has been undertaken since 2006 when the previous government pledged to cull the number of web sites and to review the value of those that remain. After reviewing 1795 web sites run by government and partner agencies, over 1000 had been taken off line. Following a parliamentary question from Tom Watson (see Theyworkforyou.com- DEFRA web sites affected ) it was announced that 57 sites managed by DEFRA would be closed by April 2011 (Spot the missing site – 57 announced – only 56 listed!)

The 57 affected web sites are:

Source –
Theyworkforyou.com – DEFRA web sites affected

Projects and web sites such as MAGIC, UKBap, National Parks and many others will be affected. What is not clear at present is whether the sites will be incorporated within other web sites (such as those of other agencies) or their data made available through data.gov.uk.

Martha Lane Fox:

On 16 June 2009, she was appointed the UK Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion to head a two year campaign to make the British public more ‘tech savvy’. She has argued that “I don’t think you can be a proper citizen of our society in the future if you are not engaged online.”source Wikipedia

Whilst ensuring that web sites are run cost effectively and fulfil their purpose is good practice, especially those that are funded by public money, it is not clear as to the criteria used to judge the ‘value’ of web sites and to what extent this is a numbers game. Many of the web sites listed provide valuable sources of information and support to initiatives vital to the preservation of the wider character and biodiversity of the UK.
It is also not clear as to how this will fit into the wider aim to get more more key public services online; a strategy that is being advised by the government’s new digital champion, the internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox.

Sites like data.gov.uk will take on an increasingly high profile role in providing access to data and information online – but such a role is unlikely to provide the more user friendly interactive roles of information provision and lifestyle promotion that engage citizens on line in the way that sites like www.nationalparks.gov.uk and www.nationalparks.gov.uk aim to.

Other sites such as Nature on the map and the excellent and long running Magic could benefit from consolidation and tighter integration with sites such as the NBN Gateway and sharing resources may provide ultimate benefits and avoid duplication of facilities.

Let’s hope that the decision to review these sites takes a holistic approach to the provision of more cost effective services whilst supporting the requirements behind their original conception.

Please comment if you have any further information or points of view.


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