Improving the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure projects


An exciting opportunity to apply for eight fully funded PhD positions in the College of Arts, Technology and Environment, UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2223-APR-CATE16

The expected start date of these studentships is 1 April 2023.

The closing date for applications is 8 January 2023.

Please note: out of the eight projects being advertised for the CATE Studentships 2022. The projects for funding will be selected based on the merit of applicants following the process outlined below.

Studentship details

Mitigating the impacts of climate change and planning for sustainable futures are arguably the key challenges of our age. In England and Wales, Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) such as transport networks, waste facilities and large-scale renewable energy projects are a critical part of this. However, they are subject to a separate planning regime, which has been criticized for being slow and inflexible, creating challenges for the delivery of these crucial projects. Delays to projects can lead to substantially increased costs, while inflexibility, such as the lack of ability to change elements of a project post-consent, can make project delivery uncertain. In the context of a climate emergency and the current energy crisis there is a vital need to speed up the consenting regime, to make it quicker and easier to deliver infrastructure such as large-scale renewable energy projects and sustainable transport networks.

We are looking for a candidate who is keen to investigate these challenges, working alongside academic and industry leaders in this area, to develop both deeper understandings of the issue as well as solutions. The key questions that this project will explore are:

  1. How does planning for major / nationally significant infrastructure projects in England and Wales differ from consenting regimes internationally?  
  2. Are there examples of international best-practice in planning for major / nationally significant infrastructure projects that could be adopted in England and Wales? 
  3. What does this reveal about the different ways power is conceived and operates in regulatory systems? 

The successful candidate will be a member of the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments. In the recent Research Assessment Exercise (REF2021), 88% of research in DGEM was judged to be Internationally Excellent or World Leading.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Katie McClymont  or Rebecca Windermere

You can also contact Professor Jessica Lamond or Dr Stephen.Hall about the studentship programme.


The studentship is available from 01 April 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £17,668 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. 


Applicants should possess a minimum 2:1 in a related discipline. An MSc degree in a related discipline would be considered an advantage but it is not essential.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-APR-CATE16. 

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 08 January 2023.


Further Information

It is expected that interviews will take place on weeks commencing 20 February 2023. If you have not heard from us by February, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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