The ‘bogs’ salute The Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP.

On 21 October 2015, the death of The Rt Hon Michael Meacher was announced.  So, what had Meacher to do with Thorne & Hatfield Moors?

Meacher 3 July 2002 WH pp

It is Meacher that we here at Thorne & Hatfield Moors have to thank that the sites are still here!  Whilst the ‘battle for the bogs’ started long before 1997 that year was a very significant one.  So much so that had English Nature and their hydrological report sponsors won the day, then we may not have been able to enjoy what remains of them today.  Undoubtably the natural environment has much to thank Meacher for, comments further to his obituary in the Guardian are very telling.

In July 1997 English Nature proposed to remove the protective status from parts of Thorne & Hatfield Moors.  The hydrological reports upon which the statutory agency based their recommendations were later established to have been provided by the peat producers!  Derek Langslow, the Chief Executive of English Nature at the time, a very brave man indeed as he ventured to a public meeting held in Thorne Grammar School to try to justify ENs proposal to a packed hall of around 400 people, or so the regional and national press reported.  I don’t recall his response to the question “who funded them [the hydrological reports]?” because the audience at that point were incensed …. the rest as they say is history as Meacher ‘suggested’ his agency to review their proposal.

Meacher & Brown 3 July 2002 pp

Meacher was then keynote speaker at our 2002 conference which celebrated the buy out of the extant planning consents.  The transcripts from “Peat – the way forward, a future for the UK’s peatlands”  are available as a download.   To hear a Government Minister describe local conservation campaigners as a ‘considerable force to be reckoned with’ caused a few chuckles amongst the audience that first day of the conference, his speech that day also shows an understanding and recognition of the part that local communities and activists can have in safeguarding their local areas.  We were fortunate also that Craig Bennett of FoE (second left, front row below)  raised the profile of the peat campaign to that of a corporate campaign.

Speaker Panel 4 July 2002 pp

Sadly one might ponder the possibilities of another of his ilk ….

021014 award MM rm crop

The image above shows Michael Meacher receiving an award for services to conservation when local bog-trotters travelled to London to make the presentation in October 2002.

Today we have Government Ministers calling anyone who cares about the natural environment ‘green blobs’.

Greenblobpride

We have Ministers who sign off badger culls.  We have Government claiming to be an evidence based one but who then fail to commission science or ignore that which exists prefering ‘pr’ narrative?  We have Government Departments who fail to act and enforce legislation when local SSSIs are damaged, fail to comply with European Directives, fail to act when raptors are illegally persecuted …. the list is endless.

The record since Meacher was sacked (rumour has it because he listened to science and to folk in the know) speaks for itself?

Thorne and Hatfield Moors and the T&HM Conservation Forum mark his passing with great sadness but celebrate his achievements for ‘our moors’ and other areas such as the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Thank you ‘honourable gentleman’.

 

ThorneMoors_A_0508_PCR_V2

Lest we forget the corporate carnage wrought by peat extraction ….

Ministerial Party on HM 3 July 2002 pp

Above: It is July 2002 and the Ministerial party look out across the ‘killing fields’ which if revisited today show nature’s capacity to heal industrial scale scars inflicted by industrial processes, but as we mark Meacher’s passing we mourn also for the lost record from the peat ‘Doomsday’ record of of climate change.

 

 

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