Lord Peter Melchett: Obituary

Date posted: 5 September 2018

Lord Peter Melchett, an advocate for the environment like no other, will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.

Dr Bob Earll, who played a lead role as a staff member for MCS over many years, said of Peter: ‘In the late 1970s a friend, David Erwin, who was working on the idea of a marine reserve for Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland told me about a visit he’d had from a London minister – Peter Melchett – a keen diver who was really supportive that this idea should go ahead. At the height of the troubles it was rare enough for ministers to visit Northern Ireland let alone make noises supporting marine protected areas.

From the outset in 1977, Peter Melchett was one of the Vice Presidents of what became the Marine Conservation Society and I had the privilege of knowing him through the early days of Wildlife and Countryside link, taking through the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) with the first provisions for Marine Nature Reserves in the UK. Later he was heavily involved with Greenpeace and although he is noted for taking part in Direct Action he was at the helm when the Brent Spar and the Atlantic Frontier campaigns achieved huge success. The Brent Spar campaign effectively led to the prevention of dumping of waste in the ocean and the London Convention incorporating principles of prevention and precaution. One of the main achievements of the Atlantic Frontier campaign was to get full recognition of the Habitats Directive applying out to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone, enabling our deep sea habitats to be protected.

He was a natural and inspiring leader for the environmental movement and whilst this is difficult to define he was a giant in comparison with many of our current so-called leaders.’

Other obituaries can be read on the Soil Association, BBC and Guardian websites.

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