Centre for Law and Environment


Using satellite data for environmental enforcement

28 March 2015

Technology is increasingly making it possible for us to go back in time to see what happened in a specific place at a particular moment. Archives of data from Earth observation technologies, including satellites, can provide historical evidence that would otherwise be unavailable. Looking ahead, these technologies will increasingly offer near real-time surveillance (including video surveillance from space). Between 2010 and 2014 the Centre for Law and the Environment conducted ground-breaking research funded by the UK Space Agency, AHRC and ESRC on the potential of earth observation technologies as a enforcement tool. The lead academics Ray Purdy (Hon Senior Research Associate with the Centre) and Ray Harris (Emeritus Professor at UCL Dept of Geography) are now turning the research into practical reality with the launch of an independent consultancy Air and Space Evidence. The initiative, the first of its kind in the world, received considerable publicity in the national press and on television.

Illegal waste operations

The satellite image provides evidence of illegal waste operations.