Dr Colin Mackie

Dr Colin Mackie


I joined the School of Law in February 2017. I was previously a lecturer in law at the University of Aberdeen (2013-2017).

The focus of my research is the intersection of, and interaction between, commercial law (corporate and insolvency law) and public law (environmental, energy and planning law). Whilst commercial law enables polluters to ‘externalise’ their pollution (e.g. remediation of environmental damage) and end-of-life (e.g., decommissioning) costs, environmental law, energy law and planning law are often built upon the principles that they ought to internalise those costs (the ‘polluter-pays’ principle) and, where relevant, preventive action should be taken. In recent years, I have transitioned to an empirically driven research strategy to gain new insights into the legal problems that this conflict creates. I seek to develop novel legal solutions to them and thereby generate a more harmonious relationship between these areas of law and their divergent goals. This work is embedded within debates regarding how best to deliver sustainable development goals, particularly through clean energy and generating responsible consumption and production. Themes of responsibility and accountability underpin the theoretical and conceptual approaches deployed in my research.

I am particularly interested in the theorisation of financial assurance, a regulatory tool that requires corporations to evidence ability to pay for their environmental obligations, including the remediation of environmental damage and the decommissioning and site restoration at the end of a project’s life (e.g. through insurance, bonds or cash deposits). To date, much of my research has been in this area and has been published in Legal Studies, Journal of Environmental Law, Journal of Corporate Law Studies, Energy Policy and the Environmental Law Reporter.

I have acted as expert advisor to a variety of organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), energy regulators, a project team headed by representatives of the Environmental Protection Agencies of Scotland and Ireland, an alliance of financial institutions and a coalition of environmental non-governmental organisations. In these roles, I have authored/co-authored a number reports, including:


  • Deputy Director for Student Education (TPG)
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Business Law and Practice

Research interests

I am Co-Investigator on a major grant from Horizon Europe for a project titled, Wind turbine blades End of Life through Open HUBs for circular materials in sustainable business models (approx €10 million). The project has the ambition to recover glass and carbon fibre from wind turbine blades at the end of their useful lives and create a knowledge hub to facilitate the recycling. I am involved in work package 3.2 ‘Policy instruments affecting Wind Turbine Blade product circularity’. Our team will elucidate the legal and policy instruments affecting wind turbine blade circularity, examining whether ‘hard’ law (e.g., legally enforceable standards) or ‘soft’ law (legally unenforceable standards) is more effective and cost-efficient in the short-, mid- and long-term, and the risks and rewards associated with each strategy. 

Since 2021, I have been part of an International Energy Agency (IEA) working party on wind turbine blade recycling (Wind Task 45: Blade Recycling). The IEA is an international organisation that works with governments and industry to shape a secure and sustainable energy future. The working party comprises representatives from industry, regulators and academia, enabling continual cross fertilisation of ideas and insights. Turbine blades, which cannot at present be recycled at scale, are a major environmental problem. Wind Task 45 seeks to develop approaches to governance in the sector that will address this. We produced a large, evidenced-based study of the different approaches taken across the globe to deal with the treatment of blades at end-of-life titled, Wind Turbine Blades at End-of-Life: a preliminary summary of policies, legislation, guidelines, and initiatives that address reuse, recycling, repurposing, and disposal (March 2022).

I have successfully obtained smaller amounts of funding from a range of internal sources. This has facilitated the development of research networks and production of research outputs. I was Co-I on a project funded to the sum of £12,000 by the University of Leeds (Pump-priming for Interdisciplinary Research). The project was titled, Making the Business Case for Wind Energy Lifecycle Sustainability, and brought together wind energy researchers from across the university. I was also part of a team that was awarded £5,500 from the Interdisciplinary Research and Impact Fund for Culture by the Leeds Arts & Humanities Research Institute in 2021 for the project, Valuing Water: beyond technocratic, economic and bureaucratic agendas.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • LLB (Hons) Law (first class)
  • PhD
  • Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors, England and Wales (currently non-practising)

Student education

As Deptuty Director for Student Education in the School of Law, I am responsible for our twelve postgraduate programmes and cohort of approximately 450 students. Key aspects of this role involve strategic development of our programmes in line with Faculty/university policy, supporting Programme Managers, Module Leaders and Assessment and Programme Support teams and chairing TPG Assessment and Awards Boards and Postgraduate Sub Committee. I am a member of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee and the Staff Student Forum.

I have taught on the following modules:

  • Company Law (UG)
  • Law and the Environment (UG)
  • Corporate Law (TPG)
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (TPG)

In 2020, I was appointed a Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence (LITE) Transformation Fellow for Corporate Law. This is one of our largest modules, with over 240 students each year. This LITE fellowhsip involved working with a learning technologist to radically transform teaching on this ‘flagship’ module to maximise the benefit derived from new teaching facilities and enhance the student experience. We developed a hybrid delivery model comprising an online ‘learning journey’ for each topic, with asynchronous lessons, guided reading, self-study tasks, MCQs and discussion forums, that students undertook prior to seminars.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Business Law and Practice

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>