Pentland Hills reports published

Pentland Hills collaborative land use management reports published

CEP's reports to the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on adopting a collaborative approach to land use management in the Pentland Hills Regional Park have been published.

As part of the project, CEP was asked to adopt the ecosystem approach which is a way of working that combines the need to manage nature in terms of dynamic ecosystems whilst involving affected communities and other stakeholders in decision-making. The project explored, with the Park’s Consultative Forum of local stakeholders, opportunities to work with nature and sustain the provision of key ecosystem services - the benefits people get from nature - in the Park.

The findings of this research are documented in the following reports:

These outputs will play a key role informing the next Pentland Hills Regional Park Management Plan (2017-2027).

For more information contact CEP's project manager Dr Peter Phillips.

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips awarded Honorary Lectureship

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips has been appointed as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips has been appointed as an Honorary Lecturer within the University of Strathclyde's Faculty of Engineering. This appointment recognises Peter's service, since 2012, as a guest lecturer within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Peter teaches a class on Applied Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and supervises / examines MSc dissertation projects. He also leads the development of collaborations between CEP and the University, including: the Land Use Strategy (LUS) Delivery Evaluation Project for the Scottish Government; and developing climate change adaptation indicators for transport infrastructure, for ClimateXChange. 

CEP-led consortium awarded EEA framework contract on forward looking studies

CEP-led consortium awarded EEA framework contract on forward looking studies

A consortium led by CEP has been awarded a four year single supplier framework contract by the European Environment Agency (EEA) to provide expert assistance on forward looking analysis, sustainability assessments and systemic transitions. The contract will support the EEA in preparing the next report on the European environment’s state and outlook in 2020 (SOER 2020).  

This exciting opportunity for CEP builds on our work for the EEA over the last 15 years, including on the SOERs in 2010 and 2015. This specific contract adds to CEP’s track record of work related to forward looking analysis for both the EEA and the European Commission, including recent projects on identifying emerging environmental risks and the implications of global megatrends for Europe.

The scope of the work under the framework contract will include developing contextual and forward looking analyses of Europe's sustainability challenges and in increasing understanding about the environmental characteristics of core societal systems, opportunities and barriers to sustainability transitions, and the implications for EU policies. A particular focus will be on strategic and long-term policies and visions relating to the low-carbon and circular economy, natural capital and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), for example.

The CEP-led consortium includes experts from leading consultancies, research organisations, universities and agencies from across Europe.

For more information please contact Dr William Sheate (Contract Director) or Owen White (Contact Manager).

CEP to deliver CECAN seminar on practical policy evaluation

CEP to deliver CECAN seminar on learning lessons from practical policy evaluation

CEP will be delivering a seminar for the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) on Learning lessons from practical policy evaluation: reflecting on a meta-evaluation of UK/EU policy and practice evaluations across the nexus.

The seminar will take place on 14 June 2017, in London, and will reflect on the findings of a meta-evaluation study of 23 of CEP's evaluation projects, exploring lessons around the evaluation of complexity, the role of methods and the nature of evaluation impact. This research brought out the key factors that affect evaluation progress and provided insights on how to navigate an evaluation through dynamic policy landscapes. The full report is available here.

In this seminar CEP's Dr Clare Twigger-Ross and Owen White will facilitate a discussion around the key findings from this research and approaches for managing complexity in evaluations. 

For more information and to register for this seminar visit CECAN's website.

CEP and partners to study the value of bathing waters in Scotland

CEP and partners commissioned by the Scottish Government to study the value of bathing waters in Scotland

CEP, with partners Economics for the Environment Consultancy (eftec) and experts from The South West Research Company (SWRC), University of St Andrews, University of Surrey and Mercatus Research, has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to study The Value of Bathing Waters and the Influence of Bathing Water Quality in Scotland.

CEP will be leading a multi-disciplinary team in developing a detailed and quantifiable socio-economic understanding of the current and future value of bathing water quality to Scotland and how water quality influences bathers, beach users and the national and local economies.

This study will provide the Scottish Government with key information on existing designated bathing waters and benchmark values to support decision-making relevant to the cost/benefit of driving further improvement to bathing water quality classifications under the revised Bathing Water Directive (BWD).

The socio-economic values explored will consider the wider aspects of Scotland’s reputational value for environmental excellence, and include less tangible values relating to health and wellbeing (e.g. benefit of being near blue spaces). These validated reference values will be used in policy development and decisions when assessing new sites and managing existing protected area designation (including de-designation).

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips is the project manager.

CEP awarded the evaluation of Heathlands Reunited project


CEP was commissioned by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) to undertake the evaluation of the Heathlands Reunited project.

Led by the SDNPA the Heathlands Reunited project brings together 11 organisations who have joined forces to expand and connect the existing 1% of heathland left in the national park. The project will run for 5 years, working with partners on 41 sites to create wildlife corridors forming an area of heathland greater than 1,200 football pitches by the end of the project.  The project is funded by partner contributions and a £1.44 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

CEP will support SDNPA with the evaluation of the impact of the Heathlands Reunited project on the following intended outcomes:

  • Heritage will be – better managed, in better condition, identified/recorded
  • People will have – developed skills, learnt about heritage, volunteered time
  • For communities, environmental impacts will be reduced; more people and a wider range of people will have engaged with heritage, the local area/community will be a better place to live, work or visit.

The evaluation will run for the full life of the project from May 2017 and until May 2021.

Teresa Bennett is the project manager.

CEP running a workshop on identifying emerging environmental risks

Photo credit: 'Atomium - Bruxelles, Belgium' by Giorgio Galeotti on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP running a workshop on a proposed system for identifying emerging environmental risks

As part of our work to develop a methodological framework for the systematic identification of emerging risks to the environment for the European Commission’s DG Environment, CEP together with our consortium partner Milieu Ltd are organising and facilitating a one-day workshop to explore a proposed Framework for Identifying Emerging Environmental Risks. The event will take place in Brussels on Thursday 4th May 2017, and will bring together experts from across the European Commission as well as representatives of other organisations and individuals engaged in managing emerging issues and risks.

The workshop will be a participatory event involving group sessions and the practical testing of elements of the proposed approach. The CEP and Milieu team will facilitate working sessions with experts to discuss and explore topics including: a systematic methodological framework for identifying emerging environmental risks; institutional roles and responsibilities; and options for trialling the approach.

For more information on this event and the project please contact the CEP project manager Owen White (Principal Consultant).

British Council publishes CEP's case studies evaluating contribution to SDGs

British Council publishes CEP's case studies evaluating programmes' contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

CEP was commissioned by the British Council to undertake a baseline study on the British Council's contribution in developing and promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The study included the review of a selection of programmes across the British Council’s portfolio and the development of three case studies. As well as illustrating impact and lessons learned, these case studies highlight good practice and provide useful guidance for further developing British Council's programmes.

The case studies are now available on the British Council's website.

CEP ran workshop on global megatrends and the Western Balkans

Photo credit: 'Ljubljana' by Miran Hojnik on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP delivered workshop in Slovenia exploring the implications of global megatrends for the Western Balkans

CEP led an expert workshop in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 10/11 April 2017, as part of the project Water Use in the Western Balkans: regional outlooks and global megatrends undertaken for the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The workshop brought together 21 regional experts and stakeholders in a scoping exercise intended to identify and prioritise the implications of global megatrends (GMTs) for the Western Balkans region related to the water-food-energy nexus. The implications identified were assessed in terms of the likelihood of their occurrence, the magnitude of their effect and the timescale over which they may occur.

The outputs of this workshop will inform a second regional workshop to be held as part of this project that will focus on the risks and opportunities for the Western Balkans region arising from the GMT implications identified and any existing policy gaps and needs.

CEP is leading the work related to global megatrends, adapting and implementing a method toolkit previously developed (by CEP) for the European Environment Agency.

CEP part of a team commissioned to scope and develop Urban Natural Capital Accounts for the UK

CEP part of a team commissioned by Defra to scope and develop Urban Natural Capital Accounts for the UK

CEP is part of a team (led by eftec) commissioned by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to undertake 'A study to scope and develop urban Natural Capital Accounts for the UK'. The project is led by eftec and project partners include the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Countryscape and academic experts.

The aim of the project is scoping and developing natural capital accounts for the urban ‘broad habitat’ across the UK, which incorporates a range of individual habitats and ecosystem services. This study will support Defra and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in their ongoing work to develop a full set of natural capital accounts and estimates for the UK, as part of the 2020 Natural Capital Accounting Roadmap.

Dr Peter Phillips is CEP's project manager.


CEP commissioned to evaluate the Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills Project

CEP commissioned by Natural ENGLAND to evaluate the Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills Project

CEP has been commissioned by Natural England to undertake the evaluation of the Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills using National Nature Reserves (NNRs) project funded under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Skills for the Future Programme. The evaluation is expected to run until summer 2017.

The aim of the Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills project is to evolve work-based training programmes and develop the skills of people entering the nature conservation sector or wanting to enhance specialist skills. It aims to demonstrate how practice-based learning models can provide the priority heritage skills required to care for England’s most valuable wildlife and geological heritage.

The project has been delivering training through placements across Natural England’s National Nature Reserves. Skills developed include habitat and species identification and recording, ecological surveying, habitat management and landscape restoration.

CEP is carrying out the evaluation of the project to establish whether and how its aims and objectives have been met and to provide evidence of successes. Key elements of the evaluation include:

  • Developing qualitative and quantitative evaluation tools;
  • Coding and analysing the information delivered by these tools;

  • Reporting on the evaluation findings using a methodology that ‘tells the project story’.

Teresa Bennett is the evaluation project manager.

CEP delivering keynote at ESCom conference 2017

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips will deliver a keynote address on participatory land use planning at the ESCom 2017 conference 

CEP's Dr Peter Phillips will be delivering a keynote presentation at the ESCom 2017 conference on 'Participatory land use planning in the Pentland Hills: using ecosystem service values to inform decision-making'. The keynote on Monday 24th April 2017 will be based on CEP's current work in the Pentland Hills Regional Park which is supporting an established stakeholder group to apply the ecosystem approach to collaborative land use and management. The keynote presentation will be co-delivered with Neville Makan from Scottish Natural Heritage and Katja Schmidt from the University of Potsdam.

For further information contact Dr Peter Phillips (Senior Consultant)

CEP carried out National Park SEA

Photo credit: 'The Days Ending' by john mcsporran on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP carried out Partnership Plan SEA for the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

CEP was commissioned to carry out an environmental assessment and prepare an Environmental Report as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority's updated National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) 2018-2023. The NPPP is the high level management plan for the Park setting out the strategic direction for all lower level plans and projects. It also requires Ministerial approval.  The SEA Environmental Report including non-technical summary can be viewed here.

The project was undertaken by CEP's Dr Peter Phillips and Dr Bill Sheate. Bill and Peter are also delivering training in May and June this year on ecosystem services and environmental assessment for the Ecosystems Knowledge Network. Full details are available here.

Learning lessons for evaluating complexity across the nexus

CECAN (the Centre for Evaluation of Complexity across the Nexus, based at the University of Surrey, has published the final report of CEP's meta-evaluation study of 23 selected evaluation projects we have undertaken relating to Nexus issues – water, environment, food, energy - over the last 10 years.  

The full report  - Learning lessons for evaluating complexity across the nexus: a meta-evaluation of CEP projects - is available here.

We evaluated the evaluation approaches and findings from a range of case studies – national and EU policy level down to programme level policy interventions and other initiatives – and sought to address three aims:
1.    To learn the lessons from past policy evaluations; 
2.    To understand the factors that support or inhibit (barriers or enablers to) successful evaluations: and
3.    To explore the value of different types of approaches and methods used for evaluating complexity

An important finding was the extent to which the contexts for evaluations at the EU level and UK levels differ: a very strong policy cycle exists for EU evaluations, which creates a more rigid framework for monitoring and evaluation, compared to the much greater degree of policy flux in the UK, and the resulting need for greater flexibility in the way in which evaluations are undertaken, and hence the greater utility of qualitative data collection and analysis methods.

Consequently the use or influence of evaluations in policy making differs considerably – there is much more instrumental (direct) use of EU evaluations compared to more conceptual or process (indirect) use of UK evaluations.

For further information contact Dr Bill Sheate or Dr Clare Twigger-Ross 

The key findings from the study are summarised in the infographic below:

CEP meta-evaluation Summary Infographic Jan 2017fin.jpg

CEP's work on enhancing ex-post evaluation published by Defra

CEP's work on enhancing ex-post evaluation of FCERM plans and schemes published by Defra

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commissioned CEP, with our partners HR Wallingford, Middlesex University and Ruth Johnston, to investigate the practice of, and barriers to, the ex-post evaluation of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) plans and schemes.

Phase 1 of the project reviewed the extent to which ex-post evaluation is undertaken, highlighting examples of good practice and considering how evaluation practice could be improved. Phase 2 of the work developed case studies providing Defra with evidence to inform possible approaches to ex-post evaluation of FCERM plans and schemes.

The project's final report for Phase 1: Enhancing ex-post evaluation of flood and coastal erosion risk management plans and schemes' and  Phase 2: Case Study report are now available online.

CEP to undertake REA on water efficiency for Defra

Photo credit: 'Water Drop' by Enid Martindale on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP to undertake REA on behaviour change approaches to water efficiency for Defra

The Centre for Hydrology & Ecology (CEH) and CEP have been commissioned by Defra to undertake a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) as part of the Managed Service Provider Framework for Evidence Reviews in the context of Water Resources and Flood Risk Management. The Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) on behaviour change approaches to promote household water efficiency, will review and assess existing academic and other literature about behaviour change relating to reducing the demand for water. The REA will focus on answering the following question:

'What behaviour change approaches have been used to reduce household demand for water and how effective are these approaches?'

To assess the effectiveness of the approaches, the REA will assess and rate each piece of evidence for its relevance and robustness following the recent JWEG guidance (Collins et al, 2015). The study will also seek to identify key gaps remaining in the evidence base and suggest how these could be filled.

Training courses in natural capital and participatory planning now booking


Dr Bill Sheate and Dr Peter Phillips will deliver a series of training courses for the Ecosystems Knowledge Network (EKN) during 2017, following the success of our one-day training course on Incorporating ecosystem services into environmental assessment run in London and Manchester during 2016.

The Ecosystem Service and Environmental Assessment course will be run again in Scotland and in Birmingham in May and June 2017 respectively.  In addition, a new one-day training course in Participatory Land Use Planning will run back-to-back with that course:-


  • Battleby Conference Centre, Perth, Central Scotland, 10th May 2017. With kind support from Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • Austin Court, Central Birmingham B1 2NP, 8th June 2017.


  • Battleby Conference Centre, Perth PH1 3EW, 9th May 2017.  With kind support from Scottish Natural Heritage.

For further information and links for booking see below:

CEP's Global MegaTrends report published by the EEA

Photo by: 'Modern Art Sunset' in Thessaloniki by Nubrig on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


The European Environment Agency published CEP's report Mapping Europe's environmental future: understanding the impacts of global megatrends at the national level.

This report is the result of CEP's work in developing and testing a methodology to help European member states explore and understand the implications of global megatrends for the environment and for policy at the national level.

The report sets out the logic for identifying the implications of global megatrends at the national, regional or European level, and aims to provide inspiration to EEA members and cooperating countries to undertake their own national studies. It describes the context and the reasons why understanding global trends is important, and sets out a suggested methodology for doing so.

This project was funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and was delivered under the aegis of the European Environment Agency (EEA) EIONET FLIS.

CEP's Dr Clare Twigger-Ross awarded CECAN Fellowship

Photo credit: 'jigsaw puzzle pieces' by Electric-Eye on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP's Dr Clare Twigger-Ross awarded CECAN Fellowship

CEP's Dr Clare Twigger-Ross has been awarded a Fellowship by the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) Investigating the value of qualitative comparative analysis in relation to the Defra Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder (FRCP) evaluation. Building on the Defra FRCP evaluation undertaken by CEP (2013 - 2015), this study aims to identify key factors that predict improved community resilience.

The key evaluation challenge for this study will be the attribution of causality in the context of community resilience to flooding. A key methodological development will be testing qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) in a novel (flooding) complex evaluation situation to examine its feasibility for similar situations, and to assess the aspects of QCA of most use to this type of evaluation.

This is expected to raise key complexity issues in evaluation, which have been recently explored in CEP's project for CECAN Learning lessons for evaluating complexity at the nexus: a meta-evaluation of CEP projects. The findings of this project will become available on the CECAN website in the coming months.

CEP to provide further support for participatory planning in the Pentlands

Photo credit: 'A sunny day in the Pentland hills' by John Mason on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

CEP awarded contract extension to support participatory land use planning in the Pentland Hills Regional Park

In 2016, CEP's Dr Peter Phillips and Paula Orr undertook a successful project for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) supporting ecosystems approach based participatory land use planning in the Pentland Hills Regional Park. The report from this project will be published shortly. SNH have now awarded CEP a contract extension to develop this work further by translating the strategic Park-wide results and recommendations into more detailed management plans for two of the ecosystem service 'hotspot' areas identified in the 2016 work. As part of this extension work, CEP will design a further participative planning workshop. This will be delivered with key land managers and other stakeholders in February 2017.