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.
Later today, we expect Defra’s long-awaited consultation on a new environmental watchdog to be published. As I’ve said in previous blogs, a robust watchdog is critical to ensure our environmental laws are properly enforced as we leave the EU. Indeed, the Prime Minister herself promised a ‘world leading independent statutory body’ when she launched the 25 Year Environment Plan back in January.
Goldeneye by Danny Green (rspb-images.com)
A few weeks ago, we set out our key tests for a ‘world-leading environmental watchdog’. They were (and remain) that a new watchdog should:
We’re concerned that the delays in publishing the consultation may mean that the government’s proposals have been weakened. We will be scrutinising the consultation document carefully and will report back with our initial reaction as soon as possible.
It won’t only be us NGOs scrutinising the plans. Both Peers and MPs with an interest in the environment will be too. If they’re not up to scratch, amendments to the Withdrawal Bill to put pressure on government to strengthen their proposals may well be passed.
The UK Government have expressed an aspiration to be world-leading in their environmental standards as we leave the EU. Whilst politicians bicker in at Westminster, nature around the world is in freefall. Environmental NGOs like the RSPB, and nature-lovers like you, cannot let that continue.