My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
The debate about the relative merits of the new National Planning Policy Framework has started. As discussed on yesterday's Today programme, it seems that those who do not embrace the reforms will be painted as anti-growth and therefore somehow out of touch - not accepting the reality of the need for economic recovery.
But that is too simplistic and misses the point. As my colleague, Simon Marsh, points out in his blog, unless economic growth is sustainable, we will be storing up problems for our children. The reality is that the NPPF has gone too far by clearly places one ‘pillar’ of sustainability – economic growth – higher than the others as an objective for the planning system. This inconsistency is carried through the entire draft, and is a departure from the current approach of the planning system which seeks to give equal weight to environmental, social and economic needs in decision-making.
This is such a fundamental shift in emphasis, that we will be rolling up our sleeves to fight this.
If you are equally concerned about the direction of travel, then you can help by joining our campaign here.