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Nick Hacking   BA (Hons) MSc AFHEA

Dr Nick Hacking



Lecturer in Urban Planning and Development

School of Geography and Planning

Available for postgraduate supervision


I am an environmental planner. My research covers the environmental governance of sustainability transitions in the waste, resources and energy sectors (specifically the 'circular economy'). I am particularly interested in the role of space, place, networked power relations, health, innovation and environmental justice in the governance of normative shifts towards sustainability. My research activity covers the delivery of new 'greener' infrastructure via the planning system (e.g. energy-from-waste facilities, energy-from-biomass energy plants and hydrogen facilities). I currently maintain contact with several communities in England and Wales where such infrastructure has been (or is being) located. This includes Barry in South Wales where I completed work in 2023 on an ESRC-funded research into citizen science and the planning system. I have also completed two ESRC-funded projects on the impact of Brexit on the UK's waste and resources sector and how standards are being used with circular economy initiatives, respectively. Overall, my research has distinct theoretical, empirical, methodological and policy dimensions.
















Book sections






I research the improved governance of waste, resources and energy (the ‘circular economy’). This interdisciplinary area of research links urban planning and human geography.

Firstly, the European Union (EU) has played a central role in reshaping the UK’s approach to sustainable waste management. Formerly waste materials attracted a zero or negative value and the favoured disposal option was landfill. Now, waste materials are regarded as resources with value for the economy. This dramatic shift in policy, practice and the conceptualisation of materials has been accompanied by similarly profound developments in governance including:

  • traditional regulatory approaches to waste management have been supplemented by voluntary measures, especially via standards;
  • the site of much governing activity has shifted upwards from London to Brussels and downwards to the devolved nations with a consequent increase in policy variation;
  • local authority waste management operations are joined by social enterprises and waste companies in delivering waste and resources management policy; and
  • policy itself, under the umbrella of the Circular Economy (CE) principles, is demanding more holistic, integrated approaches and a multi-scalar organisation of material supply chains.

Whilst never settled or secure, these complex arrangements for governing materials face major uncertainties with Brexit. In an increasingly fluid picture of materials governance, there are major uncertainties in knowing where things are physically circulating which presents problems in assessing performance and change.

Secondly, I research public participation in the planning system, specifically when communities opt to undertake citizen science in defiance of a development. Meaningful public participation, as a key part of effective waste governance, helps to avoid unsustainable social, economic and environmental outcomes at local, regional and global levels. However, many of the newer, more sustainable waste projects - often involving advanced clean technologies - are sited near to relatively deprived communities. These places typically have long histories of environmental degradation from past and present polluting industrial activity. Deep concerns exist with some community members, local politicians and NGOs about the cumulative impact on the environmental health of such additional industrial activity. This place-specific context also feeds public distrust with the regulator, local government bodies and developer/operators.


My teaching focuses on human geography, planning and sustainable environmental governance. I have contributed to:

  • CP0144 - Urban Economies
  • CP0148 - Making Knowledge
  • CP0149 - Key Issues in Urban Planning
  • CPT826 - Environmental Management
  • CPT855 - Environmental Policy
  • CPT885 - Governance of the Eco-city Development Process
  • CPT893 - Researching Urban & Regional Development



Education and qualifications

  • 2017: PhD Sustainability, Cardiff University
  • 2010: MSc Sustainability, Planning & Environmental Policy, Cardiff University
  • 1990: BA (Hons) Geography, University of Manchester

Professional memberships

  • The European Association for the Study of Science and Technology
  • The Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group Wales (Welsh Government and Swansea University)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Environment Research Group
  • Member of the Spatial Planning and Analysis in City Environments Group
  • Member of the Energy Research Cluster
  • Affiliate member of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM)
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS)

Academic positions

  • 2018-present: Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University
  • 2016-2018: Contract Research Associate, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University
  • 2013-2013: Research Assistant, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University
  • 2010-2013: Research Assistant, Low Carbon Research Institute, Cardiff University