As the clean-up operation after last night’s storm begins, National Trust teams on the east coast are also assessing the damage that has been caused to wildlife and habitats. Due to the high levels of water still present and the expected arrival of more high tides, it will be some time before the conservation charity will be able to get a full picture of the damage caused.
The proposal to divide English Heritage and create a new public sector charity to look after heritage sites is an innovative and interesting one.
Today’s announcement of an additional £5 million funding towards English Heritage is a welcome early response to concerns about the level of funding and offsets the cut announced in the autumn statement yesterday.
Our priority is to see the new charity and the heritage protection agency continue as strong partners in looking after our country’s heritage. To achieve this, the National Trust will engage with Government in the consultation to ensure that these plans deliver the funding, the resources and the capabilities to protect our heritage for the nation in the long term.
So during the consultation we will be considering the following key questions:
- Will the new charity’s business model prove financially sustainable and ensure that the new body is able to meet the conservation challenge of looking after over 400 historic sites for the long term?
- Will the level of government financing into the future of the new public heritage body enable it to retain English Heritage’s expertise and its capacity to underpin the work of the wider sector in protecting our historic fabric?
- Will either of the new bodies still be able to act as the owner or funder of last resort to safeguard important properties that others won’t take on?
Celebrations as nearly 400 schools complete a National Trust and Norfolk County Council scheme to become fit for future.
It was celebratory cups of tea and cake all round as 399 schools crossed the finish line of a five-year scheme to become Energy Busters.
The programme for infant, primary, secondary and special educational needs schools was set up by the National Trust and Norfolk County Council in 2008. The aim was to help schools and pupils create their own fun and ‘whole school’ approach to become more energy efficient – and it worked.
On Monday 25 November the HS2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons. Accompanied by the biggest Environmental Statement in UK history, we have our work cut out to assess it.
To date the 400-page hybrid bill, with an additional 50,000 page Environmental Statement, has received the most criticism for its size. With just 59 days in which to read it, the surrounding media coverage is focusing on campaigners facing a Christmas of trying to get to grips with what the proposal means. Once the one tonne document has been digested, which is set to be a complex task, opponents will have to put together their arguments ready for the consultation.
Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust said: “This is an enormous relief; we have said all along that proposing such a huge wind farm so close to such a wild and beautiful coastline was disastrous. It would have had a massive impact on the views from some of our most spectacular coast in North Devon and South Wales, as well as Lundy Island.
“The Atlantic Array was at the wrong scale and in the wrong place. We’ve always said that the process that arrived at that site was flawed and call on Government to rethink how we identify and license these sites in the future.
“We’re totally committed to renewable energy and hope that this presents an opportunity for a better discussion on how we best harness energy from the Severn estuary – one of the places with the highest potential for tidal power.
“There is a need to find a strategic solution and a plan-led approach to harnessing energy in a way that maximises generation, minimises the landscape impacts and enhances the natural environment. This can be achieved if we look at a real mix of generation at a smaller scale and more carefully chosen locations.”
Countryside Manager Andrew Brockbank charts a challenging few years for the red squirrels at Formby on the Sefton coast in Lancashire.
National Trust Formby is in the heart of the Sefton Coast pine wood reserve of 400 hectares (1000 acres).
The surrounding landscape is part of the North Merseyside Red Squirrel stronghold, which extends from the northern fringes of Liverpool to Southport, including part of West Lancashire.
Pine woods are a very valuable habitat for red squirrels. At Formby they can be at high density of up to on red squirrel in every acre.
Red squirrels eat a variety of berries, seeds and shoots of trees but pine cones and seeds form the mainstay of their diet.
Our woodland conservation at Formby aims to ensure a varied age structure amongst the pines. We thin maturing trees and also fell and replant small areas within the woodland. The oldest pines here are 80 or more years old. It is important to have young trees coming up so that there is a good source of pine cones in the future.
Back in 2007/8 the red squirrel numbers crashed due to a major outbreak of Squirrel Pox Virus (SPV). Seeing them suffer from the infection was heart-breaking, but out of adversity came opportunity and what was so impressive was the way people volunteered to help.
National Trust supporters were particularly generous with their contributions to virtual gifts to support red squirrel conservation. Some of this money supported a PhD research project by Tim Dale and a team from the University of Liverpool.
A key result of the research was that a small proportion of red squirrels showed a degree of antibody (or resistance) to SPV 18 months after the outbreak had subsided and the population recovered. These animals appeared to have had some innate resistance to the disease.
Whether red squirrels have any long term immunity or not remains to be seen. But the recovery of the population and the findings of the research give us hope that red squirrels have a better chance of survival at Formby than we had thought possible just a few years ago.
The National Trust recognises the important contribution of this research in the conservation of the red squirrel. We are poised to support further research if this will help us secure a future for the red squirrel in the UK.
The Government today outlined the creation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones in England. Here is the National Trust reaction to the announcement:
Phil Dyke, Coastal and Marine Adviser at the National Trust, said: “The National Trust, as a partner in the first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), set up in the waters around Lundy, has first-hand experience of the considerable benefits of protected zones for nature conservation. We therefore very much welcome the Government’s announcement today to designate 27 Marine Conservation Zones as a positive first step in creating a larger and coherent network of protected areas in our marine environment.
“We’ll look closely at the government’s proposed approach to designate further MCZs through to 2017 – it’s vital that the process moves quickly to establish a network of MCZs at the scale required to secure a healthy future for our marine environment. Key to this will be sustaining momentum, building on the considerable energy, consensus and commitment secured from partners engaged in the earlier processes of consultation for selecting MCZs.”