Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside Members

This page contains details of Members of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside

Dr. H. Kirkpatrick (Chair)

Dr. H. Kirkpatrick (Chair) is an environmental consultant who has worked in the university sector as a lecturer in environmental science, specializing in conservation management and for the UK statutory nature conservation bodies in both science and policy roles. Dr. Kirkpatrick has published general articles on nature conservation as well as being the author of scientific papers, reports and book chapters and is one of the authors of a recent book on the ecology and economy of less favoured areas in Europe as well as being an active member of the Rural European Platform.

Professor Julian Orford (Deputy Chair)

Prof Julian Orford is Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography in the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University, Belfast. He was previously Head of Geography, and subsequently Head of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology in Queen's University. He has over 50 years experience in researching the geomorphology and sedimentology of coastal systems. He is a past chair of Northern Ireland Environment Link, a past member of the National Trust’s National Nature Conservation Panel, and a past member of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (NI).

Oisin Murnion

Oisin Murnion lives in Kilkeel. He is a farmer who along with his wife Anne Marie and daughter Jolene are responsible for conservation grazing of an Area of Special Scientific Interest. Oisin’s vast experience has led to a successful Environmental grazing business evolving over the years. In this capacity through his experience of on the ground farming in difficult environments has brought his ability to analyse complex information and translate this into practical conservation management. Oisin is past Chair of the National Beef Association in Northern Ireland. He is also a Trustee of the Board of Agrisearch in Northern Ireland and the Chairman of Mourne Mountains West common land trust, which manages almost 5000 acres of ASSI. The family business currently manages over 600 acres of conservation land in Northern Ireland.

Emily Smyth

Emily Smyth is a chartered Landscape Architect, also trained in architecture, town and country planning, art and design, and education. Previously a lecturer in architecture and landscape architecture at the Belfast School of Architecture at Ulster University, Emily has been Chair of the Landscape Institute in Northern Ireland, and a founding member of the Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture & the Built Environment in Northern Ireland. Emily is also a practising landscape architect, and has led major physical, social and environmental assessment and regeneration schemes within and beyond Northern Ireland. Emily has strong communication skills and brings a detailed understanding of landscape to the Council.

Amit Bhagwat

Amit Bhagwat following a distinguished academic and early professional career at all-India and international level, Amit moved to Europe in 2001 where he has maintained a global outlook in his multi-dimensional career across research and programme leadership, boards, public accountability and learned institutions. Amit has chaired/served in responsible roles, gaining over four decades of cumulative board background, leading sensitive public sector assessments/reviews and advancing knowledge, professional ethics and values across learned and professional institutions. He presently serves in three public appointments in GB, including as a Senior Independent Board Member, and holds chairing duties in three institutions, two in international research and learning context, with advice/liaison across and beyond OECD. Amit has contributed to conservation research and development: horizontal studies, youth work, industry-recognised leadership in carbon neutral built-environment design, sustainability research grants assessment, expert advice to Environmental Audit Select Committee and sustainable transport planning.

Clare Dore

Clare Dore graduated in Botany at Leeds University and has a Masters in Environmental Management from Ulster University. She has worked on nature conservation projects all over the UK including Shetland, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Wales and England. Clare acted as an Observer on both the Causeway Coast AONB and the Antrim Coast & Glens and Rathlin AONB Management Groups. She is a member of the RSPB, the BSBI, Butterfly Conservation UK and Ulster Wildlife. She volunteers for the British Trust for Ornithology, carrying out bird surveys in her local area.

John Martin

John Martin has volunteered and worked in the environment and conservation sector in Northern Ireland and beyond for over 12 years. The majority of this time has been with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and his current role is ‘Head of Policy and Advocacy’. John is also on the Board of the Mourne Heritage Trust and a founding member of Jubilee farm. John has an MSc in Sustainable Development and BSc in Geography.

Ian McKee

Ian McKee brings knowledge and expertise in matters affecting agriculture and the environment through his membership of RSPB, UWT, Birdwatch Ireland and National Trust. Ian, through his public sector background brings professional experience in negotiation and advocacy, policy development and engagement with NI, GB, ROI and EU Commission officials.

Michael Meharg

Michael Meharg has a background in Environmental and Conservation matters. Michael worked in government Biodiversity protection for 30 years. Recently he has moved into the private sector building his long term involvement in conservation grazing with traditional breed cattle, having established a small environmental consultancy specialising in on-farm carbon auditing and providing conservation/wildlife advice. Michael is a member of the UFU, Ulster Wildlife and is a director of the Nature Friendly Farming Network. Michael holds a public appointment as a member of the Tuberculosis Eradication Partnership (remuneration £250 per diem).

Laura Neal

Laura Neal has been an in-house Lawyer based in Northern Ireland acting for Friends of the Earth Ltd since October 2018. Laura has been a qualified lawyer for 10 years. She has experience in private legal practice as well as the environmental sector supporting grass roots campaigning organisations in the areas of air quality, land use planning and climate change.

Noel Rice

Noel Rice served 34 years in the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) dealing in the early part of his career with land use planning, land acquisition and disposal and programme planning. For the latter 20 years of his career he was NIHE’s Energy Conservation Manager responsible for the development of its energy conservation strategy and the policies and programmes required to implement it. Following his early retirement in 2016 Noel has worked in the Belfast Hills Partnership, an environmental charity that strives to protect the wildlife and improve the biodiversity of the hills. Noel has led volunteers in planting over 6000 trees, creating wildflower meadows, removing invasive species and involving local communities in a range of biodiversity projects. Noel is a Trustee of National Energy Action and also sits on its Audit, Risk & Finance Committee. He is also on the committee of the Mourne Rambling Group.

Rosemary Thomas

Rosemary Thomas studied Geography followed by town and country planning at Queen’s University, Belfast. She spent the majority of her working life in the public sector in Wales, in both local and central government. Throughout her career she worked on land use matters, ranging from urban and rural policy, to transportation and energy, as well as forward planning. Rosemary worked in the former Welsh Office’s Agriculture Department prior to her appointment in 2005 as the Welsh Government’s Chief Planner.

For details of current CNCC Council members Terms of Office, please follow this link.


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