CPRE Cheshire mourns the loss of committed and inspiring climate change campaigner, Colin Watson.
We are sad to report the death from heart failure at the age of 63 of our member Colin Watson. Colin was a keen walker, cyclist and yachtsman and a committed and effective environmental campaigner. He was involved in work to highlight the climate emergency with the Branch, representing CPRE Cheshire at the Cheshire Show and attending our national CPRE conference. Colin was considered for the role of our branch chairman but decided instead to pursue his work with other organisations including the Chester Sustainability Forum which he co-founded and chaired and the Chester branch of Extinction Rebellion, which he also helped to establish. He was perhaps the best chairman that we never had.
As a chartered engineer in the nuclear and chemical industries, Colin understood the environment, sustainability and climate change and was a great organiser, communicator and leader who could win support and respect amongst all sorts of people at all levels. Colin had been chairman of the West Cheshire Green Party and was a major opponent of fracking when he led the Rule 6 Party in the public inquiry; he was also an expert witness against the IGAS appeal proposals for Ellesmere Port. He was active in Frack Free Upton and Frack Free Dee, CAFOD, Chester and North Wales Cycle Touring Club, Friends of the Millenium Greenway, Greenpeace and Sustrans as well as CPRE. He acted for the interests of the public and the environment on several consultative bodies and became a member of the expert advisory panel for Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Climate Change Task Force.
Colin’s links with the CPRE began with its review of policies on fracking and its responses to the government’s proposals for Permitted Development and National Strategic Infrastructure Projects. This developed with the Ellesmere Port appeal and CPRE Lancashire’s approval to lease its planning officer Jackie Copley as planning witness. Other CPRE members in Cheshire and Lancashire worked closely on this campaign. Following the critical reports of the government’s Climate Committee in 2018 and the declaration of climate emergencies, Colin worked to promote sustainability broadly through the Chester Sustainability Forum, which led to the planned week-long event to have taken place at Chester Cathedral in May 2020. This event, which would have seen CPRE Cheshire exhibit alongside a range of environmental, sustainability, local authority and faith organisations, was unfortunately postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and a future date is now uncertain.
Colin’s work on improving life in Cheshire and the world is an inspiration to others and his untimely death is a great blow to many. It will take many of us to replace him and all of us to achieve his ambitions.