In 1997 I stood as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Plymouth Sutton. This was an interesting learning experience but I decided not long afterwards that my efforts would be better applied in writing and campaigning more specifically on environmental issues. In 1998 I set up SHARD, which has campaigned with some success against the plans at that time to cover much of South Devon with low density greenfield building. In 2005 I help to set up South Hams Friends of the Earth, which has been concentrating particularly on climate change - the greatest threat currently facing humanity.
From 1995 to 2005 I worked part-time work as the Community Development Manager for the Dartmoor Town of Moretonhampstead where I raised money for public art, computer training, youth and sports centres.
After years of reading planning policies and giving evidence at public inquiries, I decided to to back and study this stuff properly. In September 2005 I gave up the job and enrolled at the University of the West of England, researching the feasibility of carfree development in the U.K.. In 2006 I secured funding from the ESRC and Dept for Transport to extend this to a PhD. During the summer of 2006 I cycled from home to Freiburg in Germany, to visit Vauban, the largely carfree neighbourhood, nearing completion there. A paper on my findings from that visit are on the research papers page.
I became fascinated by the Hallsands story when I visited the ruins, just before we moved to Devon. I began researching material for a second novel, assuming the factual history had all been written. Then, in the Public Records Office in London, I remember the excitement when I found it – the crucial document the Government had suppressed in 1918. And the rest, will all be history….