Saturday, 21 May 2022

English Green Belt Atlas, v5

Where is the green belt? Where are the green belts? How much of my area is green belt land? These are excellent questions, but it's not always super easy to find the answer, and that's why I originally began investigating this topic back in 2012. This then eventually led to me producing maps for each English local authority that had green belt land in it, thanks to an idea suggested to me by geo legend Prof Bob Barr. Since I last did this in 2018 the number of local authorities in England has changed and there is a more recent green belt dataset, so I'm returning now with version 5 of my English Green Belt Atlas. Currently, 12.4% of land in England is designated as green belt, across 180 local authorities, but it varies a lot between places, as you can see below. I have made one map for each of the 180 areas, listed alphabetically (they are really high resolution images). How big is 12.4% of England? It's 16,140 square kilometres or 6,232 square miles. This is just a little bigger than the South East region or Yorkshire and the Humber, and about 80% the size of Wales, just to give a sense of scale. From 2020 to 2021 there was a 0.1% decrease in the amount of green belt land.

I did my best with the labelling

I've tried to keep the maps fairly simple

An example of a very split local authority area (rail line)

This area has the highest % green belt land in England

Not an awful lot of green belt land here

Okay, so you get the idea with the maps - I've shown rail lines (dark), railways stations (little circle dots), places (square dots, different sizes), major roads (orange), buildings (dark), water, green space (light blue) and green belt land in a darker green. The little dot in the bottom right inset map shows you where a local authority is, just in case any are not familiar. I've automated the labelling but it's not 100% perfect, but I can't spend any more time on it. Want to use one of these maps, or all of them? Be my guest.

Here's a few more that I found interesting. You can find the full set, listed alphabetically, right here.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

The Geography of REF2021

Over the past few decades, UK universities and other higher education institutions have been subject to an assessment of their research quality through something called the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and more recently the Research Excellence Framework (REF). When I got an academic job at the University of Sheffield in 2008, it was probably because my last name is Rae and the year was 2008 and they thought I'd be good for their RAE2008 profile. Anyway, I left my academic job a couple of years ago and now run my own spatial data and training company but I did have one eye on the REF2021 results because some of my work was in it (papers, plus an impact case study). 

A lot can and has been said about REF, good and bad (okay, mostly bad), but here I'm taking a brief look at the geography of the results, by the 34 units of assessment (UoA). Here's what you'll find below.

  1. Maps showing the basic geography of each UoA.
  2. Maps showing where the top ranked institutions in each UoA are.
  3. The number of REF institutions by local authority (that's the preview image above).
But before we get going, here's the general overview showing the size of each institution's REF2021 submission in terms of staff numbers (and remember that in most cases the total % of academic staff submitted is less than the total number working at any individual university).

Lots of big blobs here

As always, click on an image to see it full size and if you want to use any of these images, just go ahead, no need to get in touch. I've added a few technical notes at the very bottom of the post. Now, click a map, then flick through the images - there are lots of them.

The basic geography of REF2021

Top ranked institutions, by UoA

Institutions by local authority

I was just curious about this

I didn't quite realise how many there were here

Notes: the source for this is the official spreadsheet published on the REF2021 results page on 12 May 2022. For most institutions (mainly Universities of course, but some are not - e.g. The Institute of Zoology, The Royal Academy of Music) the location is fairly clear-cut but bear in mind that some institutions can be spread out over different locations, sometimes far apart - as in the case of the University of the Highlands and Islands with the HQ in Inverness but colleges spread throughout the region. What does 4* mean, anyway? Good question. Here, it just means that the REF panel decided that's what it was, so that's what is on the map. Sometimes the number of institutions or UoAs you see on a map may not exactly match what you may find in your own calculations, depending upon how you do them - this would be due to joint submissions from multiple institutions. Spotted an error? Feel free to let me know. Hate REF? I understand.