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Brona McNeill

"Land Ownership and Nature Conservation: Reconceptualising Property Rights to Further Environmental Protection in Northern Ireland"

The concept of ecosystem services presents the natural environment as a vital scientific, economic and cultural asset. The move towards ‘ecosystem level’ environmental protection recognises this value, but has proven problematic to implement in NI due to a conflict with private property rights and complicated land ownership structures. This research will suggest innovative approaches to land ownership that are more attuned to conservation aims, by analysing property law doctrine and its role in nature conservation in NI. Drawing on alternative theories of ownership, the research will challenge the over-simplified dichotomy separating private property rights and the public interest inherent in environmental protection.

The emphasis is on gaining a deeper understanding of how property rights, and land ownership in particular, function in an agricultural context and using this knowledge to inform future policy direction - a task brought into even sharper focus by the possibility of Brexit and the implications this will have for agriculture, nature conservation and land use in NI.

My research interests include: Land Law; Property Law; Conservation Law; Agricultural Law; The Public-Private Divide; and Brexit


Professor Robin Hickey


Dr Mary Dobbs