Centre for Law and the Environment

Centre for Law and the Environment:
Satellites and the Law

ESRC Project: Smart Enforcement in Environmental Legal Systems: A Socio-Legal Analysis of Regulatory Satellite Monitoring in Australia

In April 2009, the Centre for Law and the Environment, Faculty of Laws (UCL) won a major funded research contract from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) worth £182,000. This research which will run until September 2010, will assesses the opportunities and challenges of using satellites to monitor and enforce environmental laws, drawing on experiences in Australia. This will be the first substantive project purely examining the operational effectiveness of using satellites in an environmental regulatory context. This research investigates the operational effectiveness of monitoring this way and will look at Australian experiences by examining practice and conducting interviews with key actors to help determine lessons learnt in terms of successes and constraints.

Surveys amongst regulated communities in Australia will be conducted to examine awareness and reactions to being monitored by satellites and to test whether knowledge of being monitored this way is likely to influence compliance behaviour. This research will consider the experiences of those being monitored this way and analyse both benefits there might be to farmers (such as consistent enforcement) as well as concerns (if they consider the technology is not used properly).

Project Sponsor
DigitalGlobe’s Quickbird satellite captures the moment that the Tsunami strikes the Sri Lankan coastline on December 26th 2004. Image copyright DigitalGlobe.