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David Miller

Staff picture: David Miller
Knowledge Exchange Coordinator
Information and Computational Sciences
Knowledge Exchange Coordinator
david.miller@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1224 395276

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

David Miller has a BSc in Topographic Science from University of Glasgow, and a PhD on expert systems from the University of Aberdeen. He has worked at the Institute since 1984, currently as the Knowledge Exchange Coordinator. In the initial years of the James Hutton Institute he was Research Theme Leader of Realising Land's Potential. He has worked on techniques for handling and analysing geographic information and applying them to mapping, monitoring and modelling changes in peatlands, land cover, urban and rural land use, landscape and seascape, and the development of Geographic Information Systems for use by government and its agencies. He was an advisor to the recent Scottish Government Land Reform Review Group

Current research interests

I am responsible for the strategic co-ordination of knowledge exchange at the institute, and research and commercial projects within the remits of several of the institute research themes. I am the Institute representative on the knowledge exchange and impact Gateway of SEFARI (the collective of six research institutes under the title: Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes). In the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (2011-16) I was co-ordinator of the Land Use Theme.

My current research interests are on understanding the landscape preferences of different types of stakeholder with respect to characteristics of cultural landscapes, the implications for multi-functional land uses, and their incorporation into planning. This work takes account of the context of past and present land uses, and scenarios of future landscapes in the testing of public preferences with a view to understanding the significance of individual drivers of change on characteristics of landscapes. Research into visual quality in relation to scenarios of landscape change was undertaken under the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU), in collaboration with Dr Asa Ode, of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. These studies make extensive use of spatial analysis of landscape characteristics and indicators, visualization tools, and both our stand alone and mobile virtual landscape theatre, with particular interest in enabling the development of visions of future land uses, rural and urban by stakeholders and the public, and the role of public participation in land use decision-making.

The development of these tools increasingly involves the combination of spatial modelling outputs with virtual reality, to provide augmented reality tools for both research and knowledge exchange. Research applications include in renewable energy, urban green spaces and human wellbeing, and rural and urban spatial land use planning. The direction of this research is to explore spatial and temporal pathways of change, and public perspectives on the evolution of land uses and landscapes into the future.

I lead areas of the Institute's knowledge exchange programme, including the Virtual Landscape Theatre, for communicating opinions about urban and rural pressures for land use change, between politicians, planners, and the public, including schools.

My research involves close working in teams comprising the social and natural sciences, which is also reflected in most of my research proposals, Scottish Government research activities, and papers. Examples of such studies are the recent study of the Effects of Greenspace on Human Health and Wellbeing (Scottish Government, Green Health), and Visualization Tools for Public Participation in the Management of Landscape Change (European Union, VisuLands).

Current research projects include

Recent competitive funding (projects overlapping 1 January 2007 - 31 December 2013) totals £6.157k, with £1.962k to the institute.

Collaborative networks

Previous European Union projects include

Reviewing responsibilities have included the European Union Framework Programmes, and research councils in Australia, Switzerland, Belgium and Norway as well as public agencies in the UK.

Past research

My research background has included the development of methods for handling and analysing geographic information, using them to map, monitor and model change in urban and rural land use and landscapes, mapping peat deposits in Scotland, the creation of natural resource databases (for example, land cover), and visual impacts of land use change.

Research on the visual impacts of land use change combine analysis of the landscape visibility, producing the first map of the intervisibility of the terrain of Scotland, land use change, and landscape preferences. Applications of the analysis of landscape intervisibility have included the assessment of landscape sensitivity to wind turbine development for Highland Council in Scotland, and the mapping of visibility for wind farm development in Scottish Borders. It also led to the first national level mapping and analysis of visibility of the seascapes of the coast of Wales as part of Maritime Ireland/Wales INTERREG 1994-1999, and of Scotland.

Wales Visibility of the sea from the land
Wales Visibility of the land from the sea

 

 

 

 

 

Research on viewing distances and visual impact of offshore wind turbines (with Ian Bishop, University of Melbourne) has been cited in a number of advisory reports, including in the UK and USA.

Our tools for the development of visual and cumulative impacts of wind turbines on landscapes have been applied extensively in the assessment of wind farm proposals. Examples include public enquiries into the extension of Cemmaes B, Llanbrynmair, Powys, and a conjoined public enquiry on the visual and cumulative visual impacts of wind turbines proposed at three sites in Mid-Wales, 2001, Carno, Powys, in each case presenting evidence on behalf of the Countryside Council for Wales.

Work on spatial decision support tools has included the use of GIS tools and rules based systems to produce the first spatial plans for the development of wind farms for Wales, the spatial plan for wind energy for Scottish Borders Council and inputs to the plan for Aberdeenshire.

Example of a spatial plan for wind energy in Wales (January 2002)
Spatial plan for wind energy for Scottish Borders Council

 

 

 

 

Digital mapping and analysis tools were developed to support the assessment of natural resources in Scotland. The principal applications have been as follows.

  • The topographic and peat depth surveys of 22 peat deposits in Scotland and England, listed here, (that is, surface and bottom contours, peat depth, isopachytes, cross-sections, peat volume, and peat quality), mainly raised bogs and peat workings. The survey methodology was broadly the same as that of the Moss Survey Group for the Scottish Peat Committee, latterly based at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research (MISR). A listing of the topographic, depth and reconnaissance surveys of peat deposits in Scotland for the Scottish Peat Committee, and further surveys by MISR is available here. The deepest peat profile I surveyed was 10.0m (Creca Moss). The deepest in the Scottish Peat Survey records is 11.0m (Threepwood Moss, Roxburghshire). Maps of the areas surveys follow, with *.pdfs of the Scottish peat Survey sites to 1984 here, and peat depth surveys post 1984 here.
Sites of topographic surveys of peat deposits in Scotland
Scottish Peat Survey sites: Scottish Peat Committee and Macaulay Institute for Soil Research

 

 

 

 

 

Research on spatial planning and impacts of wind turbines, and resource assessments of peatlands are brought together in work on a payback calculator for wind turbines on peatland. This was for the Scottish Government, in collaboration with University of Aberdeen and Forest Research, from which a paper describing the calculator has also been published.

The studies of urban greenspaces Included inventories in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee; urban land use change; analysis of accessibility using route networks between every domestic property in the cities and the nearest of each type of greenspace. Projects have been undertaken for Scottish Enterprise on economic valuation (Streetscapes, with Robert Gordon University), the European Union on preferences, use, spatial modelling, and 3D visualisations (Greenspaceco-ordinated by University College Dublin; Greenclusterco-ordinated by Alterra), Edinburgh City Council on geographic analysis of access and greenspace audits, and Scottish Government on the contribution of greenspace to human health and wellbeing (GreenHealth, with Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Heriot Watt, and BioSS). Watch the video description of the findings here. This is extended to the role of water, notably flooding, in relation to well-being such as a cause of stress, or a factor influencing psychological restoration (BlueHealth, for Scottish Government through CREW).

Recent reports for Scottish Government

Recent presentations

Recent events

  • 'Squeezed Middle' debate about land use in Scotland, at Gordonstoun School, 3rd October 2013.

Scientific posters/conferences


Printed from /staff/david-miller on 22/09/19 10:08:51 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.