Bob Harris

Research, Partnerships and Innovation

Visiting Professor of Catchment Science



  • BSc (Jt. Hons), Chemistry and Geology, University of Nottingham
  • MSc, Organic Geochemistry, University of Newcastle
  • Chartered Geologist
  • Fellow of the Geological Society
  • Awarded the 2006 Whitaker Medal by the Geological Society for ‘outstanding services to hydrogeology’

Bob Harris has spent his career working, at local, regional and national levels, for public organisations in the water and environment sectors in the UK and also has wide experience of working within the European community. Through providing expertise to regulatory staff, managing applied research programmes and supporting policy, Bob has been at the interface of science and its uptake in decision-making or for policy development for over 40 years.

Examples are the production of the first groundwater protection policy for England and Wales and its associated tools and guidance, the introduction of risk-based approaches for groundwater protection and managing contaminated land, and drafting the way groundwater was integrated into the Water Framework Directive.

Bob founded and headed the Environment Agency´s National Groundwater and Contaminated Land Centre that provided a focus for and expertise on technical issues relating to the sub-surface environment. He latterly built and managed an Integrated Catchment Science research programme designed to scientifically underpin the development of new approaches and policies relating to the WFD and to ultimately deliver Integrated Catchment Management.

In 2007 Bob was awarded the Geological Society’s Whitaker Medal for “outstanding services to hydrogeology”.

Bob is currently contracted to Defra (Environment Ministry, England) as Secretariat of their Demonstration Test Catchments Programme, he also advises Defra on their new catchment based approach to River Basin Planning, and supports the University of Sheffield’s Catchment Science Centre as Visiting Professor in Catchment Science.

Bob has recently acted as specialist advisor to the House of Lords Committee on the EU (Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment), but at the other end of the scale continues to work closely with his local community in the Shropshire Hills helping understand and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment in the Clun Valley of Shropshire.

Professional activities and memberships

Professional affiliations

  • CLARINET (European Union Concerted Action for Contaminated Land Rehabilitation Network for Environmental Technologies) - UK technical representative and Working Group leader on Groundwater Protection
  • EU Common Forum on Contaminated Land; UK representative (convenor of 2004 meeting)
  • Ad-hoc International Working Group on Contaminated Land – UK representative
  • Dept of the Environment (DoE) Landfill Practices Review Group
  • DoE Hazard Assessment of Landfill Sites Committee
  • EPSRC Waste and Pollution Management Steering Committee
  • NERC Freshwater Sciences Peer Review Committe
  • NERC Lowland Catchment Research Steering Committee
  • INCORE Committee of the WELCOME EU FP5 project
  • EU FP6 Projects peer review committees: AQUATERRA – 2004-2007; RISKBASE – 2006-onwards
  • Chair of the FIRST Faraday (Faraday for Innovative Remediation Science and Technology) Steering Committee 200-2005
  • Chair of the IPM-Net Knowledge Transfer Network (a DTI sponsored KTN) – 2006 onwards
  • Chair of the Groundwater Technical Advisory Group for the Water Framework Directive (2000-2003)
  • Member of NERC Peer Review College – from 2005
  • Member of NERC BGS Science and Management Audit (SMA) – 2003
  • Member of RAE 2008 Civil Engineering sub-group (panel 28) – 2005-2008