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Environmental Advisory Group

The Environment Advisory Group comprises volunteers with a professional background in a range of natural environmental disciplines who are brought together to provide their expert input to the Trust’s policy and strategy on natural environment matters.

Ecologists checking the canal bank

Find out more about who's in our group.

Ed Mitchell, chair

Ed is a non-executive director of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a not-for-profit company he helped set up which provides water, sanitation and hygiene services to people living in slums in the developing world. He is also an independent member of the audit and risk committee of the Vale Academy Trust, a group of primary and secondary schools in Oxfordshire.

Ed was previously executive director at the Environment Agency, responsible for their approach to waste quality, water resources, industry regulation, land management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Prior to that, the majority of Ed's career has been in the private sector. He was director of Environment and Corporate Responsibility at RWE Thames Water, worked in environmental management for GlaxoSmithKline and spent time in consultancy. He has also worked in Defra and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Dr Bruce Lascelles BSc (Hons), PhD - vice chair

Bruce is business director – Ecology, Cultural Heritage, Carbon and Resource Efficiency, Hyder Cresswell. He is also chairman of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists; trustee of the British Society of Soil Science; and member of the CIWEM Natural Capital Network Steering Group. Bruce's background is in soil and hydrological assessments, and the development of strategies for the creation, restoration and translocation of valuable habitats. He also has expertise in river restoration and the interactions between river geomorphology and biodiversity.

Professor Rafid Al Khaddar

Formerly representing the Society for the Environment on the Trust's national council, Rafid is professor of water and environmental engineering at Liverpool John Moores' University. His special expertise is in wastewater treatment methods. Rafid has published over 100 publications in refereed journals and international conferences and he is the chair of the Faculty Research Committee which overseas the management of all the research students within the Faculty of Technology and Environment within LJMU.

Caroline Essery

Caroline has worked as an ecologist for over 20 years promoting and advising on the sustainable management of watercourses. She has worked with a range of organisations within the nature conservation and flood risk management sectors including The Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, Local Authorities and Internal Drainage Boards. Her early voluntary work included helping to establish the newly formed Sheffield Wildlife Trust and chairing the Sheffield Environment Weeks Programme Committee.

Caroline has worked in the Biodiversity section of the Environment Agency for 24 years, advising on a wide range of topics relating to the conservation and enhancement of the water environment. Caroline is currently a national advisor in the Biodiversity team of the Environment Agency.

Lindsay Frost

Lindsay is a chartered town planner with many years' senior local government experience in Kent, Yorkshire and Sussex. Since 2014, he has been an independent planning consultant serving clients in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

His particular expertise is in development and flood risk, and in protection and enhancement of the built and natural environment through the planning system.

Duncan Mackay

Duncan Mackay is Natural England's principal advisor for green space. He was formerly SE director of the Countryside Agency; Environmental Technical director in the Babtie Group; environmental manager for Berkshire County Council; and, deputy secretary of the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society. Duncan was responsible for the designation of the Thames Path and writing Natural England's Access Policy

Duncan was: Commodore of Henley Sailing Club; winner of the Henry Ford European Conservation Award; author of The Secret Thames (1992), Apples, Berkshire, Cider (1996) Eat Wild (2010) and Bizarre Berkshire (2011). He is currently writing 'Red One' the story of the landscape evolution of Reading. He has also cycled his folding bicycle following the longest straight line in Britain from the Isle of Wight to Cape Wrath and has just built a coracle.

Ash Girdler

Ash is both a chartered biologist and chartered environmentalist who's specialisms range from fishery science, fish health, freshwater and wetland conservation. Ash runs an environmental consultancy and aquatic contracting business, Ash has been at the forefront of developing soft bioengineered solutions in the aquatic environment during his forty years of practical experience in the field. Ash is also one of a small number of accredited fish health consultants, carrying out examinations of fish moved in the wild. Ash's pastimes include motorcycling and scuba diving with a particular interest in oceanic sharks.

Peter Birch - Canal & River Trust, environment manager

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Last Edited: 22 November 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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