When I started my career in conservation in the mid-1980s, the Forestry Commission was environmental enemy number one. At that time it was using tax incentives and grants to promote large-scale commercial forestry expansion, including across large areas of peatlands in northern Scotland.
When it comes to protecting our environment, I fear that if 2011 is to have any parallel then it might well be 1993. That year was the worst I have known. The Rio Earth Summit had been and gone. For the media and many politicians the environment had been done. It was literally last year's issue. John Major was struggling with an economic downturn and rebellions on his own not-very-green side of parliament.