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.
I felt good about yesterday’s launch of BirdLife International’s new report on renewable energy: our partnership offering solutions to decision-makers across Europe to help them ensure the much needed energy revolution takes place in harmony with nature. For me, this is part of what good leadership is all about – offering a picture of what success looks like and coming up with practical solutions to today’s challenges. It was well received by European Commission staff responsible for mapping out the future of a low Carbon Europe.Even though the challenge of deployment of renewable energy at the scale required to meet EU targets is considerable, there does not need to be conflict with wildlife objectives.At our launch, it was reassuring to hear colleagues from both the European Wind Energy Association and European Renewable Energy Council agree with our conclusions. Industry has a leadership role to play as well – encouraging best practice as well as not ducking the environmental impacts that some technologies pose. It is in no-one’s interests to stick their heads in the sand over the consequences of bad renewables. Liquid biofuels continue to pose considerable problems and today we have joined forces with Greenpeace, Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth to highlight the environmental risks of a dash for imported biomass.In this new report we identify ways in which the UK could enhance its own production of bioenergy sustainably and avoid the need for imports. This would deliver both jobs and growth in sectors such as waste management, agriculture and forest management.We have produced this report now as the Government faces a stark choice about where our renewable energy subsidies go. Do we invest them in burning wood from imported from forests across the globe, or do we direct them towards creating a sustainable, UK based bioenergy industry?We think the answer is clear and our report sets out the reasons why. In the UK there are already 31 operating biomass power stations with around 40 more in various stages of development – they will require millions of tonnes of wood and will be heavily dependent on overseas imports.
I hope that readers of both renewable reports sit up and take notice.
Peter, we are continuing to pressurise the Government on securing a second Kyoto commitment period and will soon be running a campaign action on the subject.
Regarding barrages, as you know, we agree to disagree. A subject for another day perhaps...
On efficiency and demand management, we are on the same page. At the RSPB we have been monitoring our carbon footprint from travel and energy from the built estate and are pleased to report that we are on track to meet out 3% per capita per annum reduction.
Hi, One of my neighbour's allotment sheds is built with scavenged Polish oak destined for a biomass power station ! Enough to make you cry; lorried over here no doubt, in some scam.
What I do not see from RSPB is the profound re-evaluation of how we live to reduce our energy consumption dramatically. This personal re-evaluation largely has not happened. I note that you are not in favour of barrages which I am not sure that I agree with.
The highly stressed Severn might well have been "improved" re mud distribution and certainly a barrage would have reduced flood risk with regard to surges which with serious sea level rises, driven by deeper depressions, of perhaps a metre in the next 30 years should be a profound consideration likewise a new barrage for London is a must. Tidal is not getting the investment it needs but serious energy reduction has to be the core of any campaign. I have not seen it even mentioned yet. Certainly RSPB declined to back 10;10.
Meanwhile reports from Zimbabwe speak of intensifying temperatures and deepening drought has seen wildlife in the Okavango drop by 80% similar with wildlife populations on the Masai Mara and there is talk of the Amboseli being closed similarly; never mind people and the end perhaps of the nomadic way ie Masai, Samburu etc. Climate change in Africa of course unmentioned as yet by the BBC Natural History Unit at the end of the 20 year Rio, Kyoto, Durban process.
What does RSPB intend to do to pressure this Coalition to stay within and honour our commitments to the Kyoto Protocols ? The hour glass has virtually run out.