National Trust reaction to Michael Gove’s NFU conference speech

Our statement following the Defra Secretary of State’s speech at the National Farming Union’s Conference today.

In response to Mr Gove’s comments on public benefit, Patrick Begg, Outdoors & Natural Resources Director said:

“We’re delighted to see the Secretary of State recognise that promoting and sustaining cultural heritage in our most special farmed landscapes forms a core part of the Government’s definition of the public goods deserving of public funding. With over 80% of ancient monuments located on farmland, protecting the archaeology and historic buildings in the countryside should also be part of this approach.

“The Trust also recognises that farmers are at the heart of delivering the vision for a naturally and culturally rich countryside and they need our support.  We are already working with our farm tenants to develop nature-friendly farming methods which focus on quality over quantity that deliver public benefit.  Projects include reducing flood risk and improving water quality at the Holnicote Estate on Exmoor and restoring fragile habitats and beautiful landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales. We look forward to helping Defra pilot new ways of investing in environmental enhancement and other public goods.”

On improving access:

“Mr Gove’s renewed focus on improving access across farmed landscapes is also aligned to our DNA as we provide widespread access to more than 200 million visitors to our coast and countryside each year.  Part of this should include boosting funding for the maintenance of national trails and rights of way, given the pressures on local authority budgets, as they are vital for allowing people to experience the nature and beauty of our countryside.”

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