Richard’s research interests cover theoretical and political aspects of the relationship between public policy and sustainable development, with particular reference to land use planning, public participation, policy integration and renewable energy. His current work focuses on sustainability and planning reform in England; the relationship between devolution in the British state and the delivery of renewable energy; spatial planning and renewable energy; and community benefits from wind energy development.
BA Hons Geography, Cambridge University, (1990)
Prior to arriving at Cardiff, Richard completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Department of Geography, Cambridge University. Whilst there, he worked as a researcher for the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (UK CEED). Since arriving at the School of City and Regional Planning Richard has held appointments as a Research Fellow (1996-2000), Lecturer (2000-2005), Senior Lecturer (2005-2011) and Reader (2011 to present).
In 2010, Richard was appointed as the Course Director for the MSc in Sustainability Planning and Environmental Policy (SPEP).
From September 2012, he became the Cardiff coordinator for the international Masters PLANET Europe (MSc in European Spatial Planning and Environmental Policy).
Awards and Prizes
Richard’s work on sustainability and planning led to him being engaged by the RTPI to produce think piece for them on the subject (referenced as Cowell 2004). In 2009 he was a joint winner of the RTPI Teaching Excellence Award for the innovative teaching and learning methods used in module CPT737 Sustainability in Practice (with Dr Jon Anderson).
Memberships / External Activities
Richard teaches on the following modules at the School of City and Regional Planning:
- Introduction to Spatial Planning (first year undergraduates)
- Contemporary International Planning (final year undergraduates)
- Planning for Sustainability (MSc SPEP, PLANET Europe)
- Environmental Behaviours (MSc SPEP, PLANET Europe)
Richard’s main current research project is Delivering renewable energy under devolution, a two year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-062-23-2526). The aim of the proposed study is to assess the impacts of devolution in the UK on the provision of renewable energy, addressing in particular the following questions:
- To what extent has devolution affected the provision of renewable energy, in terms of the ways in which the devolved administration have formulated policy objectives, adjusted the choice, nature and settings of policy instruments, and influenced the delivery of new renewable energy capacity?
- To what extent have the devolved institutions made different use of the powers and capacities for promoting renewable energy bequeathed to them by the devolution process, and how might we explain any tendencies towards divergence or convergence?
- What lessons can be drawn for institutional design in the effective delivery of renewable energy from the experiences of governments across the UK to date?
The study runs for two years, from 1st January 2011 to 31st December 2012. The research is conducted as a four-way partnership, involving the School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University (Dr Richard Cowell), Queens University Belfast (Dr Geraint Ellis), Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen (Professor Peter A Strachan) and the University of Birmingham (Dr David Toke).
Richard is also completing a think piece project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, examining the relationship between Wind energy and justice for disadvantaged communities, focusing on the role of community benefits.