Tributes have been paid to Max Rosenberg, a campaigner against the onshore oil and gas industry, who has died.
Max Rosenberg, who lived near Dorking in Surrey, was a leading member of the successful campaign against oil exploration near the Leith Hill beauty spot.
He went on to oppose proposals to drill for hydrocarbons at other sites across Surrey.
He was well-known for his detailed knowledge of the onshore industry and its key players.
He was a persuasive and adroit chair of often contentious meetings. He was skilled at getting answers from regulators and politicians by posing questions that could not be easily dismissed.
Max Rosenberg was also involved in wider campaigns to protect the greenbelt from development. He was on the board of CPRE Surrey and the executive committee the Aviation Environment Federation. He was also a member of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign and Plane Wrong.
In a joint statement, Weald Action Group, A Voice for Leith Hill, Brockham Oil Watch and the Horse Hill campaign said:
“Max was a stalwart of the campaign to stop fossil fuel expansion across Surrey. He has our ever-lasting gratitude.
“He was resolute in fighting proposals to drill for oil in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on Leith Hill – a battle that lasted nearly 10 years. In the end the campaigners won and thanks to Max for the huge part he played in the campaign and with the Leith Hill Action Group, the area remains unspoiled, beautiful and tranquil.
“After that Max resolved that the drilling wouldn’t go ahead anywhere else in the licence area – which in the end led to the licence being surrendered. He went on to help Brockham Oil Watch stop the expansion of drilling in the village.
“Max’s skilful, caring, respectful and empathetic approach drew together people in common cause who might not otherwise naturally work together.
“Max knew a wide range of people and organisations to alert to the impacts of fossil fuels and regularly spoke at many awareness raising events. He was quiet, assured and very polite but don’t let that fool you. He was dogged and determined and often managed to obtain information others of us failed to do. And he didn’t overlook those who had helped him. He was a gentle man and he’ll be sorely missed.
“We owe Max our gratitude not just for the practical work he did but for the inspiration he provided to so many others. He left a real legacy in the contribution he made to saving our beautiful countryside from harm and to recognising that we need to do everything we can to stop climate change. Thank you Max.”
CPRE Surrey said:
“Max Rosenberg was a devoted CPRE Surrey member and involved with our activities since 2012. He was invited on to the main Board in 2016 and he also chaired the Mole Valley District Committee, which he did with good humour and dedication. He helped the charity to focus on ecology and his depth of knowledge sprang from a love of wildlife.
“He worked as a committee member and subsequently as chair of the Leith Hill Action Group which, with CPRE Surrey’s support, fought for over seven years against proposals by Europa Oil & Gas to explore for hydrocarbons at Coldharbour in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thankfully these efforts were eventually rewarded by success. Max then turned to helping others in Brockham, Dunsfold, Horse Hill and further afield in the Sussex Weald in campaigns to halt the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels in our precious countryside.
“Having retired as a teacher Max had been free to pursue his many passions and interests and enjoy life in the Surrey Hills with his partner of 48 years, Annette. He had both warmth and wisdom, and his enthusiasm meant he was great fun to work with and very well liked. He will be greatly missed both for his contribution to CPRE and all the other organisations that he was involved with in and around Surrey. But most of all by those of us who will remember him for his perfect manners and lovely smile.”
Trevor Sextby, Health and Safety Executive, wrote this personal tribute:
“I met Max only a handful of times, although we were in regular contact over the past six years.
“Whenever I attended meetings, Max could not have been more hospitable. It was therefore a pleasure to have known him, if only fleetingly. He always wrote to thank me and my colleagues and was always courteous and considerate. He was clearly possessed of a good deal of emotional intelligence as well as his obvious intellect.
“He was dedicated to his work with CPRE and in his opposition to proliferation of oil and gas wells on his local patch. I have met many activists in the past decade and Max was someone for whom I had enormous respect. He was a lesson to many that humanity and warmth could be more effective than anger and confrontation. I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”
Alan Cansdale, of the Kent, East Sussex and South London region of the Environment Agency, said:
“That is indeed very sad news. He was a lovely individual and embodied the spirit of civilised challenge. My best wishes to his family, friends and associates.”
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