Lancaster Environment Centre

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Coordinates: 54°00′32″N 2°47′10″W / 54.009°N 2.786°W / 54.009; -2.786

Lancaster Environment Centre
TypeScience centre
Parent institution
Lancaster University (Faculty of Science and Technology)
DirectorProf. Phil Barker[1]
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK
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The Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) in Lancaster, England, is an interdisciplinary centre for teaching, research and collaboration at Lancaster University, founded in 2003.


Its facilities were a joint investment eventually costing over £35 million by NERC / CEH and Lancaster University. There are CEH and Lancaster University laboratories, developed partly by a new extension to Lancaster University's former Biological and Environmental Sciences building and partly by extensive refurbishment of areas of the existing laboratories. Research activities span both organisations. There are extensive research laboratories, fifteen glasshouses and ten walk-in controlled environment rooms. These include high-grade containment facilities for research with genetically modified organisms and radionuclides.[2]

On 22 May 2007,[3] the Gordon Manley Building, (LEC III) was opened by Lord Rees of Ludlow Kt. The £8.4m building provides new office, laboratory and meeting-room space for geographers and environmental scientists, and provides offices, meeting and training rooms for LEC's Enterprise & Business Partnerships Team and offices for companies wishing to locate into LEC or to co-locate new activities.

In addition to the main site is a 1000m² prefabricated building at the northern end of campus, which houses environmental engineering and instrumentation workshops and large-scale sample preparation facilities for CEH. There is a weather station and several field stations around the world.[4]


The research themes of LEC are organised around several Grand Challenges:[5]

  • Agri-Food - facilitate the development of globally relevant and accessible food systems by 2030.
  • Eco-Innovation - sustainable patterns of consumption and production
  • Sustainable Catchments
  • Tropical Futures

Specific research groups were reorganized in 2016:[5]

  • Atmosphere, Climate and Pollution - the sources, transformation, trends and fate of chemicals in the environment with a focus on atmospheric composition, air quality and climate.
  • Critical Geographies - critical geographies that are vital to sustainability, social and environmental justice and our collective futures.
  • Earth Science: Volcanology and Hazards, Contemporary Environmental Processes, Sub-surface Fluids, and Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoenvironments.
  • Ecology and Conservation - molecular, behavioural and ecological techniques to understand how ecosystems function, how they respond to global change, and how they can be managed to enhance biodiversity and its associated services.
  • Environmental and Biogeochemistry - inorganic chemistry, stable and radioactive isotopes, noble gases, and trace organic analysis.
  • Geospatial Data Science - innovative spatial techniques in order to increase our understanding of a wide range of environmental and socio-ecological systems.
  • Political Ecology - relationship between culture, politics and nature.
  • Soil, Plant and Land Systems - molecular to the crop scale
  • Water Science
  • Pentland Centre - transdisciplinary research on sustainability and business, jointly with the Management School.
  • Centre for Global Ecoinnovation - positive environmental impacts through new products, processes and services for the global marketplace.

The science programmes and themes of CEH are:

  • Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Environmental Informatics
  • Climate Change
  • Sustainable Economies

These provide a range of research interests within the Lancaster Environment Centre and are post-disciplinary. A Graduate School of the Environment was launched in 2016, to provide a focus for Masters and PhD students, in partnership with CEH and Rothamsted Research.

LEC Centres[edit]

In addition to this research endeavour, the two organisations developed research centres to provide a specific strategic research focus on particular areas of current concern. These undertake blue skies research and provide a strategic focus for LEC's collaborative work with science users, including policymakers and industry. Most have now been folded into the research groups noted above.

The Centre for Sustainable Chemical Management[edit]

Led by Professor Phil Barker, the Centre has been established to provide an integrated approach covering all aspects of chemical fate, behaviour and effects. This ranges from development of new chemicals designed for fitness of purpose without resulting in adverse impact on human health or the environment to safe disposal options. This includes providing input to the "design" of new chemicals that are "fit for their purpose" but avoid the physico-chemical properties which lead to undesirable traits in the environment, such as persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity. .[6]

The Centre for Environmental Informatics[edit]

Led by Professor Ian Marshall, the Centre is currently targeting the development of self-managing heterogeneous infrastructures for data gathering and analysis at a wide range of temporal and spatial scales for both science and industry. This experimental research is motivated by the need to characterise and model the non-linear interdependencies between dynamic natural processes and enable improved prediction of the impacts of factors such as climate change and changes in land-use. [7]

Centre for Global Eco-Innovation[edit]

The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation supports the development of new products and services with environmental benefits. It delivers business led research, through enabling enterprises to access the expertise resources and global contacts of Lancaster University and its national and international partners.

The Centre for Sustainable Water Management[edit]

Led by co-directors Professor Louise Heathwaite and Professor Phil Haygarth, the Centre seeks to deliver cross-disciplinary science in water-related research areas. Faculty and Research staff in the Centre undertake research to develop scientific tools and techniques to enable the uncertainties associated with land and water use problems to be addressed in the development of sustainable water management strategies.[8]

The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture[edit]

Led by Professor Felix Wackers, the Centre seeks to couple research in plant science with a practical focus on sustainable agriculture in order to address the ecological, economic and social challenges facing agriculture in a changing global environment.[9]

Enterprise & Business Partnerships[edit]

The purpose of the business incubation centre within LEC is to allow environmental business to rent office space within the centre, enabling faster business growth through finding easier access to LEC research, knowledge, laboratories, clean rooms, workshops and specialist instruments.[10]

Collaborative Work[edit]

LEC is interested in a wide range of research partnerships from across the environmental sector, and companies locating within LEC can access these resources for research, new product development, managing environmental impacts, developing environmental CSR programmes, and responding to legislative or consumer pressures. LEC is a partner in the International Research & Innovation Centre for the Environment (I-RICE), a joint initiative with the CAS Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (GIGCAS). I-RICE is a platform for international and inter-disciplinary research on the 'grand challenges' of the environment.


  • 5th in the UK for Geography & Environmental Studies undergraduate degree, 2018 Guardian University Guide[11]
  • 3rd in the UK for real-world impact of research, Research Excellence Framework 2014
  • 1st for knowledge exchange and commercialisation, UK Impact Awards 2015[12]
  • Emeritus Professor Keith Beven is the most highly cited hydrologist in the world.


  1. ^ "New LEC director". Lancaster Environment Centre. Lancaster University. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Lancaster Environment Centre Website". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  3. ^ "LEC News Article". Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  4. ^ "Research Facilities". Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Research". Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Centre for Sustainable Chemical Management". Archived from the original on 29 November 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  7. ^ "Centre for Environmental Informatics". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  8. ^ "Centre for Sustainable Water Management". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  9. ^ "Centre for Sustainable Agriculture". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  10. ^ "LEC Office Pages". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  11. ^ "University league tables 2018". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Winners of Impact Awards 2015 announced - Research Councils UK". Retrieved 11 July 2017.