Research Projects

This page provides information about projects involving staff, researchers and students at Lancaster University. Many of these projects have been collaborative involving working with academics at a range of other Universities.

Environmental Inequality Seminar Series (2006-8)

A seminar series funded by the ESRC and NERC has run during 2006-8 with the intention of promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and capacity building so that researchers, policy makers and practitioners are better able to understand and address environmental inequalities in a range of UK and international context

The Environmental Inequalities seminar series brought together academics and practitioners from all disciplines engaged in environmental inequalities research. Focusing on a wide range of environment and social justice issues, the series seeks to review and consolidate progress on environmental inequalities research in the UK, and to build capacity and help shape the future direction of interdisciplinary research in this important area.

Seven seminars are being held around the country as collaborations between the seminar series organisers - Professor Malcolm Eames at Brunel University and Professor Gordon Walker at Lancaster University – and academics based in each University. Abstracts and powerpoint presentations made at each of the seminars are available as downloads.

Visit the Seminar Series web pages for access to these resources.  


Understanding Vulnerability to Heat Waves; the practices of heat adaptation (2006-9)

Sam Brown is undertaking a PhD in the Department of Geography investigating how vulnerability to the health impacts of hot weather amongst older people is produced and how this might be responded to in the context of future climate change. In the face of recent record breaking temperatures, like those of August 2003 that swept the UK and Europe killing an estimated 35,000 people, the need to understand how hot weather affects peoples health has become increasingly urgent. The environmental justice implications of differential vulnerability are an important part of how societal actions to address the threat of extreme heat needs to be conceived and justified.

See Sams web page for more information (under construction)

Vulnerability and Storm Surge: evaluating the role of social networks in building community resilience to an extant threat (2005-8)

Hugh Deeming is undertaking a PhD in the Department of Geography with the title of  'Social Vulnerability and Storm Surge: evaluating the role of informal social networks in building community resilience to an extant threat". This work is particularly focusing on the implications of deprived communities being disproportionately at risk from coastal flooding in England and the need to build resilience in the face of the climate change implications for coastal flooding.

See Hugh's web page for more information

Addressing Environmental Inequality (2005-7)

Gordon Walker has been leading a project for the Environment Agency which is seeking to understand patterns of unequal social impact and environmental inequality for the following topics: Flooding, Waste Management, Water Quality and Cumulative Impacts. Click here for the project brief. The collaborative partnership of researchers for this project has consisted of

The project will produce 5 reports including a separate report on patterns of environmental inequality in Wales. Two reports have so far been published - go to the downloads page.

Environmental Justice Impact Assessment and Policy Appraisal (2004-5)

A project commissioned by Friends of the Earth and being carried out by Gordon Walker and Helen Fay was completed in 2005 which examined the ways in which various ‘impact assessment’ methodologies may be used to address environmental justice concerns. Health Impact Assessments and Health Equity Audits methodologies were reviewed within this work, considering how they may help decision-makers identify situations where particular social groups are adversely affected by policies and programmes which have impacts on environmental quality or access to environmental resources. To see a copy of the report go to the Downloads page.

Investigating Environmental Justice in Scotland: Links Between Measures of Environmental Quality and Social Deprivation (2004-5)

A similar study to the EA work for Scotland, funded by a consortium of government agencies headed up by the Scottish Executive. This project, led by Jon Fairburn (Staffordshire University) and Gordon Walker (Lancaster University), is again focusing on the relationship between environmental quality and social deprivation but had a wider brief examining water quality, public access to green space and woodland and proximity to a wider range of facilities with potential environmental and health impacts (including landfill sites, water treatments works and quarries). This project is of major significance to the development of policy in Scotland, as environmental justice has featured as a major political theme for Jack McConnell the First Minister. The report is now available, please go to the Downloads page.

Environment, Health and Social Justice-Rapid Research Evidence Review (2004)

Gordon Walker and Helen Fay worked with others at Policy Studies Institute and University of Westminster to complete this review in 2004. Coordinated by the SDRN on behalf of DEFRA this examined the evidence base across 21 topic areas identified as relevant by DEFRA.

For each topic, evidence has been summarised on patterns of social distribution, impacts on social or economic outcomes, externalised costs, the causation of inequalities and policy interventions to address these. The 21 topics are divided into four groups:

This work has fed into the work of a cross-departmental strategic group which is developing a policy and research agenda to take forward actions in this area and the new Sustainable Development Strategy. To download the full published report please go to the downloads page.


Environmental Quality and Social Deprivation (2002-3)

Professor Gordon Walker (Lancaster University), Gordon Mitchell (University of Leeds), Jon Fairburn and Graham Smith (Staffordshire University) have completed research on environmental quality and social deprivation in England and Wales (2002-3). The project for the Social Policy Unit of the Environmental Agency is the most substantial research in the UK to date examining patterns of environmental justice.

Analysis was carried out using GIS of a range of environmental quality indicators for all of England and Wales at ward level compared against the Index of Deprivation. Three environmental variables of direct relevance to the remit of the EA were examined - flood risk, air quality and proximity to major polluting industrial sites. This has allowed the examination of which social groups experience the worst environments, producing empirical evidence which can be used by the EA to guide policy in the context of wider government objectives for social justice and sustainable development.

The research shows that deprived communities in England are exposed to greater potential environmental impacts than the affluent. More specifically:

Published project reports are available from the Downloads page.


Page last updated: 5th December 2007