Naomi Luhde-Thompson

Naomi Luhde-Thompson

Birmingham Law School
Doctoral researcher


  • BA Hons, MSc


Until September 2017, I was Senior Planner at Friends of the Earth, where I worked for over ten years on land use planning for sustainable development campaigns with local communities, relevant planning legislation and policy development in England and Wales, and promoting implementation of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

I am a specialist in planning and energy matters, including renewable energy and fossil fuels. Prior to Friends of the Earth, I worked on local government sustainable development policy at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in Freiburg, Germany; The National Trust on policy and communications; and in a Teacher’s College as a teacher trainer in China with VSO. My current voluntary roles include Director of the Woodland Skills Centre, an outdoor learning environment centre, Community Councillor and School Governor.

Doctoral research

PhD title
The governance of unconventional fossil fuels in relation to sustainable development in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Professor Robert Lee
Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur


My research will critique the topical and contentious matter of the development of fracking in the UK in relation to sustainable development policy. Planning is uniquely placed in combining hard and soft law with the individual judgement of the decision-maker and acting in the public interest - bringing values to bear. The regulatory sphere within which fracking is set is framed itself by consistent and strong UK Government support since 2010. Taking up the lens of sustainable development provides a view of the development of the regulation of fracking through qualitative analysis of the concrete outcome of achievements in terms of case studies as compared with the abstract concepts set out in law and policy.

The following questions have been chosen as the key research questions: To what extent and how do existing governance arrangements achieve the sustainable development of unconventional fossil fuels in the UK? How is sustainable development defined in UK law and policy as relevant to unconventional fossil fuels? Are there gaps in the provision on sustainable development? Is there a need for reform? What are the solutions?

The question is to what extent and how these unconventional fossil fuels fit within the frame of achieving sustainable development, a legal and policy commitment enshrined in numerous international, national and local governance structures. Examining specific decisions will identify which definitions and interpretations are dominant, whether there are connections between the dominant definitions and particular actors, and how far hard and soft law harmonise the achievement of sustainable development. Critiquing the legal ‘nature’ (or enforceability) of sustainable development will allow for the identification of new and substantive proposals for improving the achievement of sustainable development in relation to the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels in particular.

Source of Funding: Scholarship from College of Arts and Law.

PhD supervisor: Professor Elen Stokes (Cardiff University).