LiDAR sources for the United Kingdom

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hillshaded 1m Digital Surface Model of Melton Mowbray blended with the standard OSM map

Aerial LIDAR provides height data for terrain and objects such as buildings, and is available for use in OSM for much of the United Kingdom. This page collates details of the sources for the UK and various uses to which they have been put.

The data typically includes both digital terrain (DTM) and digital surface (DSM) models. This directly provides elevation of the terrain from which contour lines can be computed with a range of open source software (e.g., GDAL and QGIS). In addition the heights of features such as buildings, trees and hedges can be computed from the difference between the two models. Outlines or heights of such features might be derived from the LIDAR data in order to be input as vectors into OpenStreetMap.

DSM is the scan of the surface features from the aircraft including buildings, hedges, trees and even cars. The DTM data are processed version of DSM to remove the objects on the land, such as buildings etc, to reveal the underlying terrain.

Data is generally well-aligned so does not need realignment and can be used for aligning other aerial imagery. The LIDAR process means that this data does not suffer from parallax artefacts which often make aerial imagery difficult to interpret. However some 'clutter' is present, largely as obvious artefacts over water.


The Environment Agency LIDAR data was first released in 2015 as an open data set (Open government licensed).

Data are available at resolutions ranging from 10 metres down to 1m. Almost all of England is covered by 1m or 2m resolution data, except for a hole around RAF Fylingdales. Previously finer scale data (50cm, 25cm) were available but they have been withdrawn; this data is much patchier and focussed on areas most at risk of flooding.

Data is not necessarily very recent. In many areas it may be at least 5 years old. Comparison with local knowledge, Bing images and OSM data can be used to provide a rough estimate of age.

Tiles are natively in the OSGB projection (EPSG:27700).

Dataset links

The following composite datasets are currently available as tile layers:

1m DTM 2022 (>95% coverage)

1m DSM 2022

1m First Return DSM 2022

2m DTM 2022 (>95% coverage)

2m DSM 2022

Some tiles are available via Flickr without any georeferencing


Natural Resource Wales have published data with approximately 70% coverage and plan to provide full coverage. Details of the dataset are provided here. DSM and DTM tiles at various resolutions are available via WMTS: or the data can be downloaded for further use:


Tile servers and data from 11 separate surveys are available under OGL via the Scottish Remote Sensing Portal.

Composite DSM & DTM data is also available for download.




Northern Ireland

Datasets for Northern Ireland are published under an Open Government License although the Belfast City 2006 dataset requires confirmation from the copyright holder that they would be happy with the location of an attribution statement before it is used in OSM (see this thread for further information

Various experiments so far

Deriving data for OpenStreetMap

Building heights tags in the OSM DB, set based on this dataset. Shown with a colour classification

Some of the above linked experiments are potential starting points for a process of deriving data which could be input into OpenStreetMap. In particular we may be able to vectorise building outlines or (more simply) get the height of buildings suitable for height=* values.

Some data input tests so far:

Importing or manual importing may be possible on a larger scale, but would only be carried out after deriving a separate data file, and probing the quality of this first.

The DTM data can be very helpful for mapping cliffs and paths, particularly in wooded areas, or identifying courses of ditches or streams for ground verification.