Researchers at UCD


Michael Lennon

Access Centre

Tel: 01 716 2756


I was appointed as a Lecturer in Planning and Environmental Policy in the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy in June 2015.  Prior to this I was a Lecturer in Spatial Planning in Cardiff University.  I hold both a PhD in Environmental Policy and Planning and an MSc in City and Regional Planning from Cardiff University.  I also hold both an MA in Geography and a BA in Geography and English Literature from University College Cork.  I am a Corporate Member of both the Irish Planning Institute and the Royal Town Planning Institute.  I was a practicing town planner prior to entering academia.  This included several years working in the public and private sectors, both nationally and internationally in policy formulation and development management roles. 

My research interests centre on interpretative analysis.  I am particularly interested in how the meaning-making process influences approaches to environmental policy and planning.  Substantively, my research focuses on issues concerning nature, energy transitions, sustainability planning and the philosophies of professional practice.  This has resulted in numerous publications in environmental policy and planning related journals such as: Environment and Planning C; Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning; Journal of Planning and Environmental Management; Journal of Planning and Education Research; Landscape Research; Planning Theory and Practice; and Journal of Urban Design.   

I welcome contact from potential PhD candidates interested in these research themes, as well as from those interesting in the interpretive analysis of environmental policy and planning debates more broadly.  


Honours and Awards

Year: 2015.
Title: Bennett Prize for Best Published Paper in 2014 (in Environment & Planning C)
Year: 2015.
Title: RTPI's "Early Career Researcher Award" for 2015


Association: Irish Planning Institute, Function/Role: Full (Corporate) Member
Association: Royal Town Planning Institute, Function/Role: Corporate Member

Conference Contributions

Mick Lennon; Mark Scott (2016) [Chaired Session], IBG-RGS Annual Conference, London , 30-AUG-16 - 30-AUG-16.


Committee : Member of UCD Widening Participation Committee
Committee : College of Engineering & Architecture: Teaching and Learning Committee
Committee : APEP Director for Teaching & Learning
Committee : Programme Coordinator for BA in Planning, Geography and Environment
Committee : Member of School Executive Committee
Committee : Member of the ALPEP Programme Board, College of Eng.& Architecture
Committee : Member of APEP Anti-Plagiarism Committee
Committee : Member of IPI Accreditation Committee (DIT BSc & MSc)
Committee : Member of APEP Quality Implementation Plan Committee
Committee : Co-ordinator of Planning Futures series (May 2016 - present)


Employer: University College Dublin, Ireland
Position: Lecturer in Planning and Environmental Policy
Employer: Cardiff University, UK
Position: Lecturer in Spatial Planning
Employer: University College Dublin, Ireland
Position: Research Fellow
Employer: Cunnane Stratton Reynolds, Ireland
Position: Senior Planner
Employer: Auckland City Council, New Zealand
Position: Resources Consents Planner
Employer: Tom Phillips + Associates, Ireland
Position: Planning Consultant


Year 2013 Institution: University of Wales Cardiff
Qualification: PhD Subject:
Year 2003 Institution: University of Wales Cardiff
Qualification: MSc Subject:
Year 2000 Institution: University College Cork
Qualification: MA Subject:
Year 1998 Institution: University College Cork
Qualification: BA Subject:

Outreach Activities

Co-ordinator: Planning Futures programme of events celebrating 50 years of planning education at UCD takes place during 2016-17 academic year.  This programme comprises six planning-themed events with Irish and international speakers and panellists.
Research and knowledge dissemination - general media coverage:
Planning Futures Series celebrating 50 years of Planning in UCD in The Planner.

Other Activities

UCD Ad Astra Mentor for Planning & Environmental Policy



Book Chapters

Lennon, M. (2018) 'Grasping Green Infrastructure: an introduction to the theory and practice of a diverse environmental planning approach' In: Davoudi,S., Blanco,H., Cowell, R. and White, I (eds). Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning and Sustainability. London: Routledge. [Details]
Lennon, M. (2018) 'Rewilding as rural land management: opportunities and constraints' In: Scott,M., Gallent, N. and Gkartzios, M (eds). The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning. London: Routledge. [Details]
Lennon, M., Scott, M. O'Neill, E. (2018) 'Urban Design and Adapting to Flood Risk: The Role of Green Infrastructure' In: Hamin, Elisabeth, Yaser Abunnasr, Robert L. Ryan (eds). Planning for Climate Change: A Reader in Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Design for Resilient Cities. New York: Routledge Press. [Details]
Lennon, M., Scott, M., Collier, M., Foley, K. (2017) 'The emergence of green infrastructure as promoting the centralisation of a landscape perspective in spatial planning¿the case of Ireland' In: Ian C. Mell (eds). Green Infrastructure: Current Debates for Policy, Practice and Implementation. London, U.K: Taylor & Francis. [Details]
Scott, M., Lennon, M. and O'Neill, E (2015) 'Reframing urban design in an era of environmental risk: urban resilience, green infrastructure and flood management' In: Murray, M (eds). Spatial Planning in Ireland (essays in honour of Malachy McEldowney). Belfast: Queen's University Belfast. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Allen, A. and Lennon, M. (2018) 'The values and vulnerabilities of ¿Star Wars Island¿: exploring tensions in the sustainable management of the Skellig Michael World Heritage Site'. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, . [DOI] [Details]
O'Neill E, Devitt C, Lennon M, Duvall P, Astori L, Ford R, Hughes C. (2018) 'The dynamics of justification in policy reform: insights from water policy debates in Ireland'. Environmental Communication, 12 (4):451-561. [DOI] [Details]
Duvall, P., Lennon, M. and Scott, M. (2018) 'The Natures of Planning: evolving conceptualisations of nature as expressed in urban planning theory and practice'. European Planning Studies, 26 (18):480-501. [DOI] [Details]
Lennon, M., Scott, M., Douglas, O. (2017) 'Urban green space for health and well-being: developing an affordances framework for planning and design'. Journal of Urban Design, 22 (6):778-795. [DOI] [Details]
Douglas, O, Lennon, M, Scott, M (2017) 'Green space benefits for health and well-being: A life-course approach for urban planning, design and management'. Cities, 66 :53-62. [DOI] [Details]
Lennon, M. (2017) 'What is Planning?'. Town Planning Review, 88 (2):147-151. [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M, Scott, M., Collier, M. and Foley, K. (2017) 'The emergence of green infrastructure as promoting the centralisation of a landscape perspective in spatial planning - the case of Ireland'. Landscape Research, (2):143-163. [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. (2017) 'Moral-Material Ontologies of Nature Conservation: Exploring the Discord between Ecological Restoration and Novel Ecosystems'. Environmental Values, 26 :5-29. Available Online [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. and Scott, M (2016) 'Re-naturing the city'. Planning Theory and Practice, 17 (2). [DOI] [Details]
Lennon, M. and Fox-Rogers, L. (2016) 'Morality, Power and the Planning Subject'. Planning Theory, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Scott, M. and Lennon, M. (2016) 'Nature-based solutions for the contemporary city'. Planning Theory and Practice, 17 (2). [DOI] [Details]
Lennon, M. (2016) 'On 'The Subject' of Planning's Public Interest'. Planning Theory, 16 (2):150-168. [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. and Scott, M. (2015) 'Opportunity or Threat: dissecting tensions in a post-carbon rural transition'. Sociologia Ruralis, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M, Scott, M., Collier, M. and Foley, K. (2015) 'Developing green infrastructure thinking: devising and applying an interactive group-based methodology for practitioners'. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, . [DOI] [Details]
Lennon, M. (2015) 'Explaining the currency of novel policy concepts: learning from green infrastructure planning'. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 47 . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. (2015) 'Finding purpose in planning'. Journal of Planning Education and Research, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. and Scott, M (2015) 'Contending expertise: an interpretive approach to (re)conceiving wind power's 'planning problem''. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. (2015) 'Nature conservation in the Anthropocene: preservation, conservation and the challenge of novel ecosystems'. Planning Theory and Practice, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M., Scott, M. & O'Neill, E. (2014) 'Urban Design and Adapting to Flood Risk: The Role of Green Infrastructure'. Journal of Urban Design, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. & Scott, M. (2014) 'Delivering ecosystems services via spatial planning: reviewing the possibilities and implications of a green infrastructure approach'. Town Planning Review, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. (2014) 'Green infrastructure and planning policy: a critical assessment'. Local Environment, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Cowell, R. and Lennon, M. (2014) 'The utilization of environmental knowledge in land use planning: drawing lessons for an ecosystems services approach'. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
Lennon, M. (2014) 'Presentation and persuasion: the meaning of evidence in Irish green infrastructure policy'. Evidence and Policy, . [DOI] Link to full text [Details]

Conference Publications

Douglas, O; Lennon, M; Scott, M (2017) Quality Green Space for All: A Socially Inclusive Framework for the Integration of Health Impact Assessment into SEA Proceedings of the European Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change (ECBCC) [Details]
Lennon, M. (2017) Rethinking Engagement: adolescent sensitive green space UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference [Details]
Douglas, O., Scott, M. and Lennon, M. (2016) Eco-Health: Ecosystem benefits of green space Well-Being 2016: Third international conference exploring the multi-dimensions of well-being Birmingham City University, , 05-SEP-16 - 06-SEP-16 [Details]
Feindt, P. and Lennon, M. (2014) Bio-patents as contested boundary objects: reconceptualising a controversy on the nature of nature International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference [Details]
Lennon, M. and Scott, M. (2014) Planning for Resilience to Multiple Stressors ¿ operationalising the theory of social-ecological resilience through green infrastructure planning AESOP Congress [Details]
Lennon, M. and Foley, K. (2014) Repositioning landscape architecture: Can green infrastructure support the profession's evolution? ECLAS Conference [Details]
Lennon, M (2012) Connotations of credibility: policy, evidence and actor legitimation in landuse governance International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference [Details]

Published Reports

Mark Scott, Mick Lennon, Marcus Collier, Karen Foley (2016) Integrating Ecosystem Approaches, Green Infrastructure and Spatial Planning. Environmental Protection Agency, Dublin, Ireland. Available Online [Details]
Mark Scott, Mick Lennon, Marcus Collier, Karen Foley (2016) Green Infrastructure: A How To Guide for Disseminating and Integrating the Concept into Spatial Planning Practice. Environmental Protection Agency, Dublin, Ireland. Available Online [Details]


Research Interests

My research interests, experience and expertise lie at the intersection of spatial planning and environmental policy. The current focus of my research, teaching and publications centres on four interrelated areas: Governing Nature; Energy Governance and Policy; Planning Sustainable Environments; and Planning Theory and Practice.


Governing Nature

I am fascinated by how and why agents deploy symbolic language, actions and objects in different contexts to constitute and communicate diverse conceptions of nature in environmental policy and planning.  This thread of research entails original empirical work into the emerging ontologies of nature within planning practice and environmental policy.  Such research seeks to investigate how differing understandings of nature prompt different responses that influence the effectiveness of policy interventions.  This work is located at the intersection of debates concerning political ecology, social-ecological resilience, climate change and biodiversity governance.  


Energy Governance and Policy

This strand of research activity seeks to address current deficits in knowledge concerning the complex relationships between people, place and the politics of planning for energy transitions.  Specifically, this research examines the multifaceted interactions between discourses, rationalities and environmental policy in disputes concerning energy sourcing and supply through pioneering analysis of the scalar dimensions of meaning-making in energy related debates.  A key contribution of the research is providing a solid philosophical foundation upon which to relate the original empirical material and investigative approach to the formulation of recommendations for new modes of governing landscapes in a post-carbon transition. 

Planning Sustainable Environments

I have a deep interest in advancing innovative forms of spatial planning and environmental governance that promote mutually beneficial relationships between people and their environments.  It is in this context that I am intrigued by the increasingly high-profile topic of green infrastructure planning.  Consequently, I have conducted significant empirical research with planning and allied practitioners regarding the interpretation and application of the green infrastructure concept.  Academically, this has enabled me to provide original contributions to our understanding of how novel modes of social-ecological interaction can facilitate climate change adaptation, biodiversity enhancement and sustainable growth patterns that furnish healthier environments.  At an applied level, such work has informed local government planning through a series of interactive problem-solving workshops designed to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration.  Most recently, this research has expanded into the field of health and wellbeing.  Through the EPA funded 'ECO-Health' project (, I am exploring new ways to conceptualise and plan green spaces to enhance their use for physical and psychological health.


Planning Theory and Practice

I am interested in issues surrounding planning theory, professional identities and practice rationalities. This is reflected in research I have conducted into how identity-linked epistemological prejudices generate land use policy and regulatory practices that shape modes of environmental governance.  Recent research and publications in this field have provided original contributions to knowledge concerning planning policy process dynamics, the modality and likely effectiveness of evidential formats, agent positioning in environmental policy debates, and the potential of practitioner self-hermeneutics to inform planning theory.

Research Projects

Sponsor : Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Title : ECO-Health
Start Date / End Date : 01-FEB-16 / 01-JUL-18

Current Postgraduate Students

Sonya Agnew, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)   -   Secondary Supervisor


Teaching Philosophy

I promote an interactive and research-led teaching approach that seeks to connect the theoretical relations between planning and environment policy with illustrative empirical material. In this sense, I encourage students to see theory and practice as dialogically related wherein one informs the other in ongoing co-evolution.


Internal Collaborators

Prof Mark Scott, Dr Eoin O'Neill, Dr Craig Bullock, Dr Marcus Collier, Dr Karen Foley

External Collaborators

Prof Richard Cowell, Dr Andrew Flynn, Dr Andrea Frank, Dr Jonathan Prior (Cardiff University), Prof Geraint Ellis, Dr Linda Fox-Rogers (Queens University Belfast), Prof Peter Feindt (Wageningen University)