National Trust Places

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Our Snowdon hydro is live and helping to fund conservation

Our first large hydro turbine has been switched on at a Snowdonia farm and is now helping to fund our conservation work.

Behind the scenes of our Snowdon hydro project

The hydroelectric scheme has been sensitively crafted into the rugged heather-splashed Snowdonia landscape at Hafod y Llan farm by our dedicated team in Wales.

The hydro is expected to generate 1,900 MWhr per year, which is more electricity than is needed to light up all of the places we look after in Wales, including eight mansions, three castles and around 45 holiday cottages.

The power produced by the Snowdon hydro will be sold through our new renewable energy trading company to our energy partner and green electricity supplier Good Energy. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 445 homes.

Weir and picnic

An exciting journey

Keith Jones, Environmental Advisor for Wales, said working on the Snowdon hydro project has brought many challenges, but it is just the beginning of an exciting journey for the Trust.

“It’s taken 300 tonnes or a mile of pipe, six tonnes of turbine and generator kit and more than 100 people to make this stunning project happen. Add in the southern face of Snowdon, snow, heavy rain, rock and 60,000 walkers passing the site per year and you can see why this has been a bit of a challenge,” Keith said.

“The end result? We’ve got a hidden hydro capturing half a tonne of water per second and generating a couple of million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year – I’m quietly pleased!”

Hydro_pipes_ready_to_be_carried_by_helicopter_up_the_side_of_Snowdon_on_Hafod_Y_Llan_farm,_Snowdonia,_Wales

Conservation funded by renewables

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the National Trust, said: “We’re lucky to be blessed with an abundance of natural resources that we look after for the benefit of the nation. Now with this new trading company we can harness some of the power generated by nature to help fund our conservation work.

“However, the real prize for us as the UK’s largest conservation charity, is that we are helping to protect special places forever by creating sustainable energy solutions that work in complete harmony with our natural and historic heritage.”

Juliet Davenport OBE, founder and CEO of Good Energy, said: “This is a fantastic project and shows renewables and conservation working hand in hand. I’m sure our customers are going to be really pleased that some of our power will come from National Trust hydro sites, and maybe they’ll go to see them in action over the summer.”

An ambitious plan

We are looking for opportunities to install renewable technology where it is appropriate and in the right location and scale for the landscape.

Already we have developed more than 250 small and medium-scale renewable energy schemes across England and Wales, including biomass, solar and hydro technology.

An ambitious plan was also launched last year by the National Trust in conjunction with Good Energy to provide clean energy to 43 of our historic properties.

It is hoped the scheme will help us to generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 and halve fossil fuel use in the same period.

Through our renewable energy plans and with energy conservation work, we hope to save an estimated £4million from our energy bill each year – which we can invest in conservation work at the places we look after.

How you can help

You can support this work by making the switch to Good Energy today. If you mention the Trust when you do it, we will also receive funding to support more renewables projects like our Snowdon hydro.

Follow the progress of more of our renewables projects at http://ntenvironmentalwork.net/

Find out more about the Trust’s partnership with Good Energy and switch today at www.goodenergy.co.uk/national-trust


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6 National Trust places that inspired great people

Sam Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Over the next few months he will be following the politics of preserving our heritage. Check out last week’s post on High Speed Rail and heritage here.

The National Trust owns and runs several properties, places and things that have inspired a number of great people into making great things.

Here is a list (in no particular order) of those people and the properties/places that inspired them.

 

1. Chartwell Estate and Winston Churchill

As well as an accomplished statesman and war-winner, Churchill liked to indulge in the arts.

chartwell painting

This painting was sold for £1 million in 2007

Not only was Chartwell Estate the place where he composed most of his paintings, it also became inspiration for him as well.

In 2007, a painting named ‘Chartwell: Landscape with Sheep’ sold for a whopping £1 million in 2007.

Come visit Chartwell where you can see Churchill’s studio and 130 of his paintings on show to the public.

 

 

2. ‘ One ring to rule them all’- The Ring that inspired Tolkien

A Roman ring was found in 1785 and then sold to the Chute family, who then brought it to their home, the Vyne in Hampshire.

Inscribed in the ring is:

“Senicianus live well in God”

The ring that may have inspired Tolkien's Hobbit books

The Roman ring with an inscription, similar to Sauron’s ring in Tolkein’s works

Decades after the ring was found, a tablet was found in Lydney in Gloucestershire with a curse inscribed by its owner, Senicianus:

“Among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he bring back the ring to the temple of Nodens.”

J.R.R.Tolkien certainly knew the story of the curse and the ring. Before he found fame as an author, Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford  and was researching into the Senicianus ring two years before he began work on The Hobbit.

Come to the Vyne where there is an exhibition of the cursed ring and a Hobbit influenced playground.

 

3. The most famous tree in science

We all know the famous story of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head. Newton then shouted ‘Eureka!’ as he figured out the theory of gravity.

Newstons Apple Tree 2

‘Eureka!’- the famous apple tree

This story has been told many times in many different ways, however what stayed the same was the tree. Although being blown down in a storm early into the 19th century, it re-rooted itself and has stayed there ever since.

For a tree-mendous time, visit Newton’s family home and the famous tree at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.

 

 

4. Greenway House- Agatha Christie’s home in Devon

Whether they mean it or not, aspects of an author’s life show up in their work.

poirot

The last-ever Poirot episode Dead Man’s Folly was also filmed on location at Greenway

Agatha Christie frequently used her own home in Devon for inspiration.

One of the most obvious is in ‘Dead Man’s Folly’. Greenway’s boathouse is described in detail as a location of the first murder. Other places like the distinctive greenhouse and tennis court are also mentioned.

Why not kill some time and visit this landmark National Trust property?

For more aspects of Greenway House that feature in her literature, click here.

 

5. Rudyard Kipling’s home

The Jacobean manor house Bateman’s was used as a home and retreat by the author from 1902-1936.

The surrounding land and village of Burwash helped inspire his children’s fantasy Puck of Pook’s Hill and sequel Rewards and Fairies.

The property and surrouding land also certainly inspired the poem The Land, where he references the Burwash Weald.

He wrote many other famous works whilst living in the house, including the poem If.

 

6. Beatrix potter and Hill Top farmBeatrix potter

After experience some success from her first few books, Potter purchased Hill Top and surrounding land as an artistic retreat.

This inevitably impacted on her works, as the following books started to involve village and rural life: The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Tom Kitten. 

 

Why not inspire yourself  and visit a National Trust property today?

We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us- Winston Churchill

Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust.

He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.


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Spirit of place: HS2 and the power of space at Hardwick Hall

Samuel Weaver is an intern working on the National Trust’s project to minimise the impact of High Speed Railway 2 (HS2). In this post he will be looking at the potential impact it will have on Hardwick Hall. Check out last week’s post on another property at risk from HS2 here.

As I make my way through the winding drive-way of Hardwick’s estate, the dominating presence of the Hall comes into view. Its raised position on the plateau of the hill means it demands the respect and attention from any onlooker.

Hardwick

However, I am not here for a nice day out, but for the purpose of preserving this priceless asset.

Sadly, the proposed route for HS2 will pass in close proximity to the property. HS2 have said the track would be ‘sitting low in the landscape past the hall’

Although, this is not strictly true.

The M1 is already lying in the valley close to the property and by HS2’s logic, the railway track could be similarly hidden by keeping it in the same corridor. However, the M1 is largely hidden from the estate, whilst the proposed HS2 track would have to be cut deep into the other side of the valley, becoming very much visible from the building and grounds.

HS2's route will cut into the oppostie valley

HS2′s route will cut into the opposite side of the valley

Also, Hardwick’s attraction comes from its dominance of the surrounding landscape. So if HS2 were to become a prominent feature within the landscape, it would undermine the experience for thousands of visitors that it attracts each year.

More of Hardwick's stunning landscape

More of Hardwick’s stunning landscape

National Trust’s HS2 project leader for the Midlands Keith Challis had this to say:

‘A large part of the significance of great houses like Hardwick comes from how we view them within the landscape. Protecting key views to and from Hardwick Hall is an essential part of our work to minimise the impact of HS2. This requires careful assessment of the extent to which HS2 will encroach on the experience of visitors both as they approach the Hall and as they explore the house and grounds.’

Everything about the property was created as a statement of power. This came from the building’s simple symmetry and pioneering large glass windows, which earned the saying ‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’.

Inside is no different. On the third floor, just walking through the High Great Chamber and one of the longest galleries in the UK makes the visitor feel humble to its powerful ancestral owners.

Hardwick's famous tapestries

Hardwick’s famous tapestries

Hardwick Hall is not only a great display of Elizabethan skill and workmanship, but it also perfectly reflects its original owner’s character. During the Elizabethan times, Bess Shrewsbury made a name for herself as a formidable and authoritative woman. As well as being the second richest person in England after the Queen, she boasted an impressive amount of political power.

Therefore, keeping HS2 hidden away is integral to maintaining the visitor’s experience and ‘spirit’ of the place.

It is worth clarifying, whilst the National Trust is neither for nor against the principle of high speed railway, it is arguing the project should not impact on heritage and ecology.

Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust.

He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.

 


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Spirit of place: HS2 and the seclusion of Hartwell

Sam Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Over the next few months he will be following the politics of preserving our heritage. Check out last week’s post here

Past an idyllic public house, a small patch of woodland and over a picturesque stone bridge, sits the historically important Hartwell House.

hartwell

Considering the property’s wonderfully preserved nature and seclusion, it isn’t surprising it now functions as a hotel and a spa. However, this might all change as the proposed High Speed Rail (HS2) route plans to steamroll straight past the building.

Hartwell has had an impressive history. It was the home to many prominent individuals, including the exiled Louis XVIII of France during the early 19th Century. It was in the library where he signed the reinstatement of his rule once Napoleon had been defeated.

The grounds also have served as a retreat from the urban sprawl of Aylesbury. Its lake is perfectly landscaped across the length of the land, which is home to a plethora of ducks and swans. Additionally, two lines of trees and a fence hidden in a neat ditch (known as a ‘ha ha’) create a far reaching ‘avenue’, which adds a certain tranquillity to the landscape beyond explanation.

Hartwell's avenue

Hartwell’s avenue

Hidden fence or 'ha ha'

Hidden fence or ‘ha ha’

The fact that parts of the estate will be destroyed for the railway, the undervalued ‘spirit’ of the building and surrounding landscape is likely to be at risk.

Not only will the route cut into the important screen of trees already in place to ensure the properties seclusion, it would also run across the end of the avenue, which will mean it will be in sight of the property.

The noise from the high speed railway is also a worry. As it stands, HS2 have calculated the noise could be kept to an acceptable level.

Consulting sound engineer on the National Trust’s HS2 project Alan Nethersole has said that: ‘with current plans, it will be impossible to not hear the railway from the building. If Hartwell House benefits from being a quite retreat, then the sound from the trains every few minutes will be a problem.’

Alan also noted that guests will notice the sounds much more than someone who is used to the noise. Considering this, the sound would have disastrous effects on the experience of the inhabitants of the hotel.

Although the English Heritage listing system can protect historic properties from destruction, project leaders for HS2 are still yet to recognise the railway could harm the visitors’ experience of buildings like Hartwell.

Whilst the National Trust is neither for nor against the idea of HS2, it feels that it should be built so that ecology and heritage are protected.

Watch this short video explaining National Trust’s plan to reduce the impact of HS2 on Hartwell.

Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust.

He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.


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Hardwick Hall’s tapestries: Gideon’s story continues

 In this post Gina Richards looks into what is being done with some of Britian’s most treasured tapestries… 

The National Trust own the largest collection of tapestries in Britain, with Hardwick Hall having over 100 in its impressive collection.

Within the property resides the internationally significant Gideon collection, which tells the biblical story of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites. Due to its historically unique nature, its conservation is essential. The collection is now in this long and delicate process right now.

In 1996, the collection was surveyed and discovered that an estimated £1.7 million was needed to conserve and repair this stunning collection for future generations to enjoy.

The Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall

The Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall

Originally woven in 1578, the tapestries are now looking grey and weathered. Due to the architecture of Harwick Hall, ‘more glass then wall’ as the jingle goes, it has meant the once vibrant colours of the tapestries have suffered significant light bleaching.  Other factors for their deterioration include the air pollution caused by nearby coal mines, which has absorbed into the threads.

Despite this, 436 years later they’re still hanging, even if it’s by velcro.  The long gallery, which was designed specifically to house these intricate tapestries, still doesn’t fail to impress the thousands of visitors each year.

Erecting a scaffold tower in the Long Gallery in preparation for conservation work at Hardwick Hall.

Erecting a scaffold tower in the Long Gallery in preparation for conservation work at Hardwick Hall.

Last week, the 11th tapestry of the collection was delicately taken down by a large team of experts and taken to The National Trust textile conservation studio in Norfolk. From there, the tapestry is sent to De Wit Royal Manufacture in Belgium to be wet cleaned and then carefully taken back to the studio to be thoroughly examined. After an intense analysis of the damage, it is lovingly mended by hand to restore quality.

Unfortunately, the tapestries original vibrant and lively colour pallet cannot be restored from prior damage. Nevertheless, by taking a closer look at the back of the tapestries, it gives you a unique insight into the exciting colours which once would of adorned the front. This skilful process of restoration takes about two years to complete, with the Trust looking to finish the collection in 2020.

The whole collection of thirteen were purchased as a bargain from the Heirs of Sir Christopher  Hatton for £326.6s. Bess of Harwick used her persuasive negotiation skills to further bargain an impressive £5 discount. Her justification was the great expense she would have to pay for editing out the orignal owner’s crest and having her’s embodied in. However, being the savvy businesswoman woman she was, Bess simply added antlers to the does on the existing crest, avoiding the tedious process of getting it re-embodied.

What can I do to help?

The National Trust is so thankful for the generous donations towards this essential work here at Harwick House. Thanks to you, there is only two tapestries left to restore. However, we still need your generosity to help complete the collection. The work is vital in saving these rare tapestries from disrepair. 

 To help the essential work that is taking place please donate to : www.justgiving.com/HardwickGideons.

 

Gina, is a Media and Communications intern focusing on producing video to support the many upcoming National Trust projects. As a Graphic Design graduate, she is passionate about communicating inspiring ideaGina Richards blog images and important issues.


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The A303: Safeguarding Stonehenge’s future

In this series of blog posts Ellie Dewdney will be keeping you up to date with current issues that could affect Britain’s most special places and what the National Trust are doing to preserve these national treasures.

 It will come as no surprise that here at the National Trust we are great fans of Stonehenge; not only does the landscape hold huge archaeological significance but it’s one of Britain’s most admired and iconic places.

The beautiful Stonehenge

The beautiful Stonehenge

So naturally the Government’s next Autumn Statement, which may contain an announcement about improving Britain’s road network – including a strategy for the A303 road running alongside the Stonehenge monument – will be of much interest to the Trust.

This area has already been the source of considerable debate over the years. Just last June, by closing and grassing over almost a kilometre section of the A344, which ran within touching distance of Stonehenge, English Heritage and ourselves were finally able to put into action plans that were suggested as early as 1927.

Grassed over A344

Grassed over A344

The A344's old route by the Heel Stone

The A344′s old route by the Heel Stone

 Although there remain some local road issues to resolve, this change has been widely welcomed, as it has significantly improved the visitors’ experience and the authenticity of the site. The road closure has helped restore much tranquillity to the Stonehenge monument and has also had a positive archaeological impact; Stonehenge and its processional avenue have finally been reunited.

 As Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage said

when all the works are complete, people will be able to experience this complex and extraordinary monument in a more tranquil, natural setting.”

 However, the A303 is still a real blot on the Stonehenge landscape, as well as being a traffic black spot for those heading to the South West.

Stonehenge and the A303

Stonehenge and the A303

 

Like many we recognise there are real problems at Stonehenge and we have for many years supported the principle of improving the road network in order to improve the road and the quality of the environment across the Stonehenge Landscape. Some people are insisting change is needed to ease congestion levels no matter what the impact on the landscape. At the Trust we believe that the current round of road improvements might provide an opportunity to finally give Stonehenge the scheme it deserves and that means a world class solution for a world class place. We will be engaging very closely with the Government and our key partners over the next year to ensure we help to protect this very special place.

 

Ellie is the current Land and Landscape Intern at the National Trust. She read Classical Archaeology and

ellie-blog

Ancient History at Oriel College, Oxford and graduated last summer. She’s loves writing and is enthusiastic

about making sure people are up to date on issues affecting some of Britain’s most loved places.

 

 


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Three reasons why old buildings are good for business

Sam Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Over the next few months he will be following the politics of preserving our heritage. Check out last weeks post here

It is a common misconception that listed buildings or properties with a historic nature can be a barrier to development.

In fact, property development and preservation can go beautifully hand-in-hand. These are the following economic benefits that we can reap from preserving our old buildings.

 

  1. Business thrives in older buildings

 

To start, preserving an existing property can be cheaper and more efficient than building from scratch.

More importantly, certain businesses thrive within premises of historic value. In an English Heritage report, they have considered converted industry buildings ‘can provide occupiers with large, quirky, open spaces that are valued for their uniqueness and creative ambiance’.

In another example, Hartwell House which is owned by the National Trust has reinvented itself as a hotel. The grade 1 listed building has a long and colourful past, which includes becoming a refuge of King Louis XVIII of France during the Napoleonic Wars. Its relationship with international politics remains alive with it hosting several international summits and meetings.

These conversions can sometimes achieve a novelty value for the business. Oxford Castle, which was used as prison until 1996, was converted into a hotel. Its prison-esque interior is still apparent.

More importantly, businesses provide protection for historic buildings. Essentially they finance the conservation work that ensures they live and long and happy life.

 

Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle

  1. Older buildings have indirect economic benefits to the local economy

 

It isn’t just the businesses within the properties that prosper from heritage conservation, it is evident the wider community also feel the benefits. If development is done properly and the building’s original ascetic is maintained, it increases the quality and value of the local surrounding. This has the following effects:

  • It increases nearby property prices
  • Invites more business into the area
  • Invites more people and tourists which therefore increases the income for surrounding business

One sucesseful example is Gloucester Docks. The once stagnant and dormant industrial hub has gone through a remarkable regeneration thanks to clever planning. In its heyday, these warehouses used to be filled with industrial activity, now they host a range of shops, restaurants and apartments.

B60XB6

 

  1. Provides employment and supports skills/trades

 

Besides the cultural benefits from the historic buildings, providing conservation projects injects a huge amount into the local economy. In the case of the National Trust alone, it employs thousands of people around the country to preserve and maintain its heritage.

In some cases old skills are being revived. When old buildings are involved, old skills are needed. These days there is a shortage of these traditional skills, which include carpentry and masonry.

One venture the National Trust partakes in, is the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme. With the support from other heritage organisations such as English Heritage and the National Heritage Training Group, this scheme offers apprenticeships in these traditional trades.

Not only are people paid, which injects money into the economy, they also learn valuable skills and trades.

 

Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust.

He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.


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Good news for Britain’s heritage- Magna Carta

Sam Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Over the next few months he will be following the politics of preserving our heritage. 

Finally there is some good news for Britain’s heritage as George Osbourne unveiled the new government budget yesterday. It specifically designates £1 million for the Magna Carta Trust, as in 2015 it will be 800 years since good ol’ King John issued this globally influential piece of our constitution. 

This is especially welcoming since the National Trust owns the land where it was first sealed (near Runnymede). See anniversary events here.

The budget had even squeezed a cool £20 million for Cathedral renovation in anticipation of the First World War Centenary.

This is particularly good considering these recent times have not been so beneficial for British heritage. Last June, the government announced further cuts to its investment into the heritage sector.

These cuts were not the first. When the Coalition government first came to power in 2010, heritage took an initial battering of cuts from the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Ironically, last year had also been the centenary of the landmark 1913 Ancient Monuments Act. This legislation had revolutionised the way this country protected it’s heritage sites. It had been the first time in which the government was directly stepping in to protect these sites. Terms of the act included:

  • Compulsory ‘Preservation Order’ on monuments at risk of demolition by a private owner. 
  • ‘Scheduling’ of monuments- once a site was on the list and the owner informed, it became a crime to damage it.
  • Under the Act, the Office of Works could give free advice to an owner regarding the treatment of an ancient monument on their land and could oversee any works free of charge

Prior to this act, England had a notoriously bad record with its heritage sites.

For example, the biggest loss included the demolition of Shakespeare’s final house. Reverend Francis Gastrell, who bought the house in 1753, became irritated with tourists wanting to see it and pulled the house down. Find more information here.

Considering our nation’s poor track record with heritage over the last few centuries, it is good to see the government honouring important anniversaries like the Magna Carta and WWI.

Follow my blog over the next few months where I will be exploring the politics and challenges facing our heritage today.  @weaversamuel2

Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Samuel Weaver Blog

He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.


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National Trust calls for our most special places to be frack free zones

We’ve joined up with other leading countryside groups to call for our most sensitive areas to become frack-free zones and for improved regulation of shale gas.

In a report called ‘Are we fit to frack?’, developed with the Angling Trust , RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, we set out ten recommendations for Government to make fracking safer.

Morecambe Bay in Cumbria is one of many special places for nature that may be affected by the shale gas industry

Morecambe Bay in Cumbria is one of many special places for nature that may be affected by the shale gas industry

Frack-free zones

The recommendations are based on a full technical evidence report which has been peer reviewed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, one of the UK’s leading ecological research institutes. It is supported by a cross party group of MPs including Zac Goldsmith, Alan Whitehead and Tessa Munt.

We are calling for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.

Serious concerns

The report highlights a lack of regulation around shale gas exploitation which could cause serious impacts for a range of threatened species including pink footed geese, salmon and barbastelle bats.  It also raises serious concerns about the impact of drilling and water contamination on some of our most precious natural habitats such as chalk streams.  These crystal clear waterways are known to anglers and wildlife-lovers as England’s coral reefs – 85 per cent of the world’s chalk streams are found here.

Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus)

Barbastelle bat ©National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

Simon Pryor, our natural environment director, said: “The debate on fracking needs to be evidence based. The evidence from this detailed research clearly reveals that the regulation of shale gas needs to be improved if it’s to offer adequate protection for sensitive environments.

“Whilst the Government is keen to see rapid roll out of fracking, there’s a real danger that the regulatory system simply isn’t keeping pace. The Government should rule out fracking in the most sensitive areas and ensure that the regulations offer sufficient protection to our treasured natural and historic environment.”

The recommendations contained in the report are:

  1. Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.
  2.  Make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.
  3. Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.
  4. Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of accidental pollution.
  5. Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process.
  6. Require all hydraulic fracturing operations to operate under a Groundwater Permit.
  7. Make sure the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine waste management are rigorously defined and regularly reviewed.
  8. Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.
  9. Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and independent.
  10. Minimise and monitor methane emissions.

 

  • The National Trust has committed to reduce its energy use by 20 per cent, halve fossil fuel consumption and generate 50 per cent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020. For more information go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/energy 
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English Heritage split – radical plans mustn’t risk its wider role

English Heritage plays an important role for heritage in England, directly managing hundreds of properties and also providing statutory advice and championing heritage more widely. The Government has just finished consulting on radical plans to change this role by splitting it into two bodies – a charity to manage the properties (to be known as English Heritage) and a public body to take on its wider functions (to be known as Historic England). We’ve just sent in our response to the consultation.

We think that, in principle, there are advantages in the idea of English Heritage’s properties being operated by a charity. The National Trust itself shows how historic assets can be successfully held and managed by a private charity for the benefit of the nation. And at a time of continued pressure on public finances, a new model could help relieve the pressure to cut back further on English Heritage’s current advisory services.

But the National Trust has had 119 years to grow and develop and is supported by a wide asset base of land and financial endowments. The new English Heritage charity will have stretching targets to grow membership by 86% by 2027 (the best decade for the Trust’s membership growth was 20%) and visitor numbers are expected to rise by a third as the new charity becomes financially independent and its grant is phased out. DCMS is to provide a welcome upfront investment but English Heritage’s conservation backlog may be as high as £79m by 2015. There is a danger that, if sufficient reserves aren’t built up, volatile visitor numbers (for instance from too many wet Summers) and the challenge of ongoing conservation and care for all properties may make the financial model unstainable.

Managing these risks will be vital for the new charity in its initial eight year license period and DCMS need to put in place contingency plans if income generation targets are not met. Although the initial eight year license may not help long-term planning, it does give whoever forms the Government in 2023 the opportunity to review how the new model is working.

Historic England should not be forgotten in these plans. The National Trust is very supportive of English Heritage’s current statutory and wider heritage protection activities. Like others, we rely on its research, experience and advice to support our own management of heritage. We want the new Historic England to remain a strong, independent and properly funded body with a broad remit for delivery. As such, Historic England must be shielded from any future deficits incurred by English Heritage as it seeks to meet its ambitious income targets.

We also are concerned that the consultation document is short on the details of how exactly Historic England will be able to strengthen its expert advice and provide an even better service, as promised by DCMS. We also want to see more about the role of partner organisations like local councils and voluntary organisations. This needs to be improved when Historic England’s focus and priorities are set.

Splitting up English Heritage and setting up a new charity to run its properties is an innovative and ambitious move. It will inevitably mean that many in English Heritage will be focused internally over the coming years. Throughout that change and beyond, we need the Government to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding the public’s present and future interests in our shared heritage. We will play our part in offering our advice to Government as they set up the new structures.

To read the National Trust Consultation Response, please click here.

By Dr Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director

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