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Geography Professor appointed as special adviser to Select Committee

26th April 2022

One of the UK’s leading experts on nature and sustainable land use has been appointed as the sole special adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee investigating land use in England.

Professor Alister Scott of Northumbria University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences will provide the Select Committee with specialist advice over the structure and content of the inquiry, which is due to report at the end of this year.

The Select Committee inquiry, How should we respond to increasing demands on land? is considering the current demands on land use across all of England and how these demands will evolve over the long term.

A call for evidence is now open, with members of the public invited to give their views on current and future demands on land use, and how government decision making on this issue can be improved.

Professor Scott’s research focuses on finding new ways to improve policy and decision making across built and natural environments where land use is a core component.

He has recently completed a Natural Environment Research Council fellowship examining how green infrastructure – the green spaces and environmental features found across urban and rural areas – can be better mainstreamed in planning policy and decision making. 

He has also been involved in both the Rural Economy and Land Use programme and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, as well as innovative game-based approaches to improve public participation.

Professor Scott said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to this role. As an interdisciplinary researcher and spatial planner, I have always been focused on the need to break down sectoral silos and work with policy and practice communities and wider publics to improve the tools and processes by which we make land use policy and decisions.

“This inquiry is both timely and welcome given the many pressures now facing the future use of land.

“The opportunity to work with the Lordships and the team of parliamentary staff is exciting and challenging in equal measure, taking me out of my comfort zone for sure.”

Lord Cameron of Dillington, Chair of the Committee on Land Use in England, said: “Land use is facing a huge range of pressures, challenges and opportunities across the spectrum in this country. This comes at a time when the country is going through great change following the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the affects of Brexit and related new environmental and farming policies, and the impact of social and technological change.

“We are seeing increased demands for land for housing, infrastructure, agriculture and forestry, as well as a need to tackle climate change and support nature and biodiversity. We are keen to find solutions to all these challenges and to ensure we can use land sustainably and effectively over both the long and short term.”

The committee is currently gathering evidence for its report which will be issued in December. Anyone with any enquiries about the call for evidence can contact the committee by emailing hllanduse@parliament.uk

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