Three rather different environmentalists

We have this week, in just a couple of days, seen the passing of three impressive figures in UK nature conservation: Norman Moore, Michael Meacher and Mick Carroll.

I knew all three of them a little and admired each of them a lot. It would probably be difficult to think of three more disparate figures, and I am absolutely certain that the three of them were never in the same room together.

One a scientist and conservationist, with a strong love of dragonflies; another an Old Labour minister who blossomed in the environment department of the time and played a major role in getting lead shot banned in waterfowl shooting and a delay in the introduction of environmentally damaging GM crops; and a raptor enthusiast who inspired others with his love of and knowledge of nature, and his lack of patience for those who wilfully and illegally killed it.

These three figures illustrate that the ways that any of us can contribute to nature conservation are many and varied – indeed we need great people of all sorts and of all skills if we are to make progress.  All can find a niche.

I knew Norman Moore far less well than the other two men mentioned here but I was struck by how others uniformly spoke of him with affection, respect and admiration. That says a lot.

Michael Meacher was a minister who did what he thought was right, rather than what was politically wise or expedient. He was the most independent minister I think I ever worked with and one of the ones who made the most impact because of that.

Mick Carroll was a big man and a big personality. It came as no surprise that he organised his own wake weeks before his death so that he could attend, nor that his plans for the afterlife are to haunt those who kill birds of prey. Keep busy, Mick!


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5 Replies to “Three rather different environmentalists”

  1. Michael Meacher was a genuine conviction politician without whom
    The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 would not have seen the the light of day. If only there were more like him.

  2. A few years ago I had the great fortune to be able to spend a morning chatting to Norman Moore about his life before, during and after the war. A truly great and wonderful man. If there is a Valhalla for conservationists he will have a seat at the top table and as he walks to it, there will be a great banging of table tops.

    1. Well, he was a level-headed Christian, as well as a very serious scientist, so I sincerely hope you are right. As someone who had seen the savagery of Nazi persecution of Russian prisoners at very close quarters in his prison camp, and yet acknowledged the exemplary surgery by a German army doctor who saved his leg badly wounded by a hand grenade, he had ample opportunity to form well-founded judgements about life, death and faith.

  3. Meacher was also the Minister who listened to grassroots conservationists and campaigners when in 1997 he 'suggested' to English Nature that they reconsider their proposal to denotify Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI. Derek Langslow left the 'stage' soon afterwards.

    Then in 2002 he found the funds to buy out the extant planning consents on Thorne & Hatfield Moors in Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire and Wedholme Flow in Cumbria. A keynote speaker to our celebratory conference in 2002 as well as finding the time to visit the sites with us (grassroots activists).

    Sadly, I suspect that there will be no 'moor' politicians of his ilk with the compasion and common sense to listen to science and real people.

  4. I am very glad, Mark, that you have drawn attention to Norman Moore's life, achievements and his character. When he said that it was often possible to achieve a great deal as long as one was prepared not to take the credit for it, he offered a powerful insight into how conservation needs commitment and not gestures.
    You may be pleased to know that some of my happy memories of spending time with Norman involve visits to the excellent RSPB gravel pit reserves near Swavesey. And it is also very good that you included Norman Moore in your vote for great conservationists on your website a few years' ago.


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