Theme five: Environment and Marine

With close links to regulatory bodies, academic networks and local practitioners, research within the Environment and Marine theme complements the wider research strengths of the University and is both interdisciplinary and applied in its focus. Leading edge work from contributors to the theme has informed policy and practice within regulatory bodies including Heritage England and the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Additionally, advice provided to Government departments and work with third sector organisations including wildlife bodies, such as Wild Futures and heritage bodies such as the Nautical Archaeology Society and the Maker Trust ensures an applied and practical dimension to our work. 

Practical application of research into the natural and built environments both on and offshore is group’s primary focus so as to contribute to effective and visible contribution to wider environmental sustainability and resilience. We have a strong regional presence and are also outward looking, working with international partners across the Channel region.

Theme coordinator: Jason Lowther

Areas of research expertise

  • Marine and terrestrial habitats and conservation
  • Wildlife crime and animal welfare
  • Renewable energy
  • Land use planning and Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Marine spatial planning
  • Protection of cultural heritage 
  • Fisheries and marine living resources
  • Sustainability


  • Hugo de Rijke – cultural heritage; land use and planning; sustainability
  • Dr Victoria Hamlyn – offshore renewables; land use; marine planning and EIA; sustainability.
  • Jason Lowther – terrestrial and marine conservation; marine licensing, planning and EIA; wildlife crime and animal welfare; underwater cultural heritage; sustainability. 
  • Joanne Sellick – EU dimensions to terrestrial and marine environmental law; EU and UK water law and policy; animal welfare; sustainability 
  • Michael Williams (visiting research fellow) – underwater cultural heritage; marine licensing, and planning; fisheries.

Current and recent research projects

Marine Licensing and UCH
Research in this area is informing a number of discrete projects, although the unifying theme is a consideration of the impact of changes to the law in respect of marine licensing on the potential for enhanced protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Beyond the academic outputs advice has been provided to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and also resulted in assistance in the drafting of secondary legislation for the Joint Nautical Archaeological Protection Committee’s submission to the MMO and the department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Permitting Byelaws and Inshore Fisheries Regulation
Re-organisation of inshore fisheries management in England has created obligations for the regulatory authorities in respect of habitat protection, consequent upon the Habitats Directive. In furthering the twin aims of fishery regulation and environmental protection, certain byelaws have been drafted which adopt a relatively novel approach to the issue and which are based upon an examination and application of the precautionary principle. The work to date has generated those byelaws, and evaluative work is continuing with the aim of enhancing the regulator’s targeting of resource. 

Sustainable Energy Policy
Research in this area is focused in two principal areas: issues surrounding the recovery on non-standard hydrocarbon resources and UK onshore energy policy and law, which is premised upon analysis of incentivising schemes, town and country planning guidance and presumptions against or in favour of certain energy sources; and also in relation to property and related issues consequent upon the development of offshore renewables.


Marine Protected Areas  
At its broadest focus, MPAs offer an environmental designation where certain features are prioritised, be they from the natural or manufactured environment. Research within the Law School is considering MPAs in the Territorial Sea and their potential development in the High Seas; and in the context of EU and international legal provisions including at the interface of fisheries, energy and archaeological development. 

Wildlife Trade Law
Research into wildlife trade law is a continuation of projects started over a decade ago. Work in relation to the UK/EU position is currently focused on the differing drivers for the illicit wildlife trade, and contemporary focus on issues such as security and the destabilising of civil society mechanisms though corruption etc, sits alongside doctoral research considering comparative positions in range, transit and destination-market states.