National Trust reaction to Government statement on Forestry Panel Report

Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director, at the National Trust, said

“We are pleased that the Government has agreed with the Panel and will be securing the Forestry Commission‘s woodlands in England for future generations to enjoy. The way in which people rallied to defend these woodlands was fantastic and it’s good to see the government take this decision to end the uncertainty over the fate of our public forests.”

Woodland on the Blickling Estate, Norfolk. (NTPL)

“It is vital that the conservation work the Forestry Commission has done, restoring ancient woodland and providing woodland recreation, is sustained. We are pleased to see additional short-term funding for the FC, but hope that the Government’s emphasis on generating more of its income from commercial activity is not at the expense of providing conservation and recreation benefits.”

“It’s really good to have the Government agreeing to most of the other recommendations of the Panel. The policy statement is light on detail for some key areas, and we look forward to hearing more about how these aspirations can be turned into reality. There are no big surprises, and given the big vision from the Panel it would have been nice to see a few more fresh commitments and new initiatives.”

Changes to the Inner City Project

For the past 25 years the National Trust’s Inner City Project has sought to provide opportunities for people in Newcastle to access the countryside. A recent independent review of the project concluded that there may be more cost effective ways for the charity to engage a wide audience, particularly in the outdoors.

Holy Jesus Hospital, Newcastle (Blenky64)

Built in 1681, the hospital currently houses the National Trust Inner City Project.

A National Trust spokesperson said:

“The National Trust has entered into a formal consultation process with staff at the Inner City Project to review the future of the project. The Inner City Project has played a useful role for a number of people, but we need to be mindful of how we spend our charitable resources to achieve the best results. “

“An independent review concluded that there may be better ways to engage more people with nature and the outdoors. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the National Trust will explore alternative ways of working with existing groups based at Holy Jesus Hospital as well as working with partners to identify new opportunities to engage a broader audience across the North East.”

“Our properties are a lot more proactive in the way we encourage people to access the coast and countryside on their doorstep. Over the past year we have launched our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ campaign and started a national partnership to re-connect young people with Nature, and this has proved very popular with children and adults alike.”

The outcome of the consultation is expected in February.

Update 14/03/12: Closure of the Inner City Project

“The National Trust can confirm that the Inner City Project in Newcastle will close in May. The Inner City Project has been running for 25 years and the Trust values all that it has achieved, but as a charity we need to be mindful of how we spend our resources and adapt in the current economic climate.

“The National Trust will work with the young people involved in the project in a transition phase to identify the right opportunities for them at our places, particularly those accessible by public transport such as Gibside in Gateshead. This could include formal training or volunteering opportunities. The Trust will also work to enable existing groups for older people, including walking and art groups, to continue.

“We hope that by reviewing how we work, we can use our resources more effectively and offer more opportunities to more people.

“Regrettably 2 full time and 1 part time roles will be made redundant due to the project closure.”

Anna Karenina Costume Exhibition opens at Ham House

Last Friday the National Trust’s PR team spent the day at Ham House and Garden in Richmond-upon-Thames. This wasn’t a jolly though; we were on hand to help promote this beautiful 17th century mansion, as it played host to the launch of a costume exhibition for the film Anna Karenina.

© Sam Holden

The Anna Karenina Costume Exhibition at Ham House, to celebrate the DVD release on 4th February, is open until 4th April © Sam Holden

Along with our friends from Fever PR and Universal Pictures and armed with clip-boards, walkie-talkies and a tight schedule we entertained journalists with tours of the house and the exhibition.

© Sam Holden

Anna Karenina Costume Exhibition, celebrating the DVD release, opens Saturday 26th January 2013 at Ham House, Richmond. © Sam Holden

The exhibition showcases costumes worn by the likes of Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Jude Law in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic romance.

The PR team didn’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with the gowns, military uniforms and intricate under garments.

The PR team didn’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with the gowns, military uniforms and intricate under garments.

As well as a chance to view the costumes in the Long Gallery, one of the few ‘real’ locations used in the film, journalists were able to hear a few words from Academy Award nominated Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran and interview BAFTA nominated Set Decorator, Katie Spencer.

Describing the using Ham House as a location, Katie Spencer said:

“It brings the houses to life to which is good for the National Trust as it gets people in and its good for us as you just couldn’t build some of these houses, they are just exquisite.”

We also grabbed a few minutes with the designers, the staff at Ham House and the Trust’s Filming Specialist to create this short video about the exhibition…

The exhibition is now open and exclusive tours are available until 7th March, please visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hamhouse or call 020 8940 1950 for full details.

From 9th March until 4th April (except Fridays), Ham House will open to all visitors for the chance to admire the exhibition unguided.

The Anna Karenina Costume Exhibition at Ham House and Garden is free for all National Trust Members; non-members are subject to an entrance fee of £11.00 for adults, £5.50 for children.

Anna Karenina is out on Blu-ray and DVD, both with UltraViolet digital copy on 4th February.

Heythrop Hunt statement

The Heythrop Hunt is licensed to trail hunt on National Trust land in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

In light of the fact that members of this group have recently been convicted of illegal fox hunting, the Trust has decided not to renew the hunt’s licences when they expire on 31 March 2013.

A National Trust spokesman said: “We are very much aware of the importance of countryside traditions and we allow field sports to take place on our property where they are traditionally practised, providing they are within the law and are compatible with the Trust’s purposes. These include public access and the protection of rare animals and birds and fragile habitats.

“Whilst the illegal activity in this case did not take place on land we own, we consider it to be a serious breach of trust. The conviction has given us major cause for concern about how the hunt runs its activities, which is why we will not renew the hunt’s license at the end of March.

“We have spoken to the hunt and also followed up in writing to make it clear that they will need to work closely with our local teams to rebuild our confidence in how they run their activities before we can consider an application to renew their trail hunting license.

“The Trust is a charitable body and does not take a political position either for or against field sports.”

The Trust’s position on field sports is here.

National Trust statement in response to today’s announcement by Right Hon Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, on the Government’s preferred route for phase 2, or Y of HS2

Peter Nixon, National Trust Director of Conservation, said:

“It is not for the National Trust to comment on whether HS2 is required. We are, however, opposed to the route chosen for the high speed rail link up to Leeds and Manchester where it impacts directly the Hardwick Estate near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

“We are also concerned about potential indirect impacts on Calke Abbey near Derby, Staunton Harold Church in Leicestershire, Nostell Priory near Wakefield on the eastern side of the Y route. The western link could have impacts on Shugborough near Stafford, Dunham Massey near Altrincham and Tatton Park near Knutsford. We will be looking closely at the details published today to assess the impacts.

“Although opposed to the route our intention is to engage as widely as possible, with the Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, as well as local and regional stakeholders and communities.

“This is the approach we have adopted on phase 1 between London and Birmingham. We believe it is the most effective way of ensuring the scheme is the best it can possibly be in respect of its final alignment and in terms of agreeing high quality design and mitigation standards.”

For more information please contact:

Steve Field, 07824 544201, Stephen.field@nationaltrust.org.uk

Claire Graves, 07770 645230, Claire.graves@nationaltrust.org.uk

For details of the National Trust approach to phase 1 of HS2, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hs2

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Weekly Witter: Will my daughters’ photographs survive for their grandchildren?

Leaving aside my feelings of regret as a customer and my sympathy with the former employees of collapsed retailer Jessops, there is another niggling worry on my mind. If various reports analysing Jessops’ demise are correct , “Core to Jessops’ failure was its relevance in a diminishing market as technology evolved and many consumers shunned dedicated cameras in favour of multipurpose devices such as smartphones.” (Tiffany Holland RetailWeek).

The change in our behaviour in taking photographs is also reflected in how we are now keeping photographs. A thought-provoking article “Death of the Family Photograph Album?” caught my eye in News Today. According to a study commissioned by holiday company Thomson Al Fresco, many people don’t bother to print photographs anymore. A poll of 3000 people revealed that 71% prefer to use social networking and on-line photo management sites to store photographs for reasons of speed, affordability and ease of sharing images. However, an alarming percentage also reported photographs had been lost due to computer viruses, accidental deletion or because the photographs had “mysteriously disappeared”. Then there are the people who acquire new computers and don’t bother to transfer photographs from their old PCs. Oh dear.

“How many images taken now will survive another hundred years?”

I am in the business of looking after the nation’s historic photographs – at least those kept in National Trust collections. As I examine and help preserve photographs up and down the country, I am reminded that what we like to photograph has not changed. The vast majority of photographs in historic houses reflect the lives and interests of their former owners: children, pets, gardens, weddings, moments of joy, humour or importance.

Feet in a pool

Digital photograph taken on a school trip – by Lynne B.R. – saved on her mother’s external hard-drive.

My own teenage daughter’s photographs reflect the age she lives in. Most of all they reflect her; they represent the memories she may want to share one day with her own family. The images are taken increasingly on her mobile phone rather than her camera, then appear on a social website. That she wants to record the moment is not in question, but she is less concerned – or at least less aware – of image quality and longevity.

Sometimes I grapple a collection’s practical problems: how can a property tackle the need for new, high-quality storage materials or afford the conservation treatment that is required? Yet though the photographs may have been created up to 170 years ago the actual state of images is often remarkably good. The techniques and materials used – even in the amateur market – produced a good percentage of images that have survived to the current day. This is fortunate because our interest in discovering photographs of other peoples’ or our own past remains undiminished.

Jessops encouraged us to keep buying cameras capable of producing decent images (and provided a service for printing them out, one presumes, on good quality paper with long-lasting inks) but the trend towards images taken on other devices then storing them almost entirely in a digital format seems unstoppable.

How many images taken now will survive another hundred years? Will images trusted to on-line photo management sites always be accessible? Will digital images I reject for printing out as hard copy survive? Will the materials I buy to produce hard copy be of sufficient quality to last as well as the photographs I care for in historic houses?

“Happily, I could replace them, but not unfortunately the other folders he had managed to delete from his wife’s memory stick- that included a wedding and a once-in-a-lifetime African holiday.”

My own current practice is still to print out and keep my favourite images in an acid and pollutant-free album of the highest quality I can afford. I keep digital images on an external hard drive as well as my PC. I occasionally share some photographs on social networking sites but am mindful of lack of privacy. I label images, aware of the frustration at identifying and dating old photographs. I am still considering the advantages and potential pitfalls of on-line photo management sites.

My final thoughts are with a friend’s husband who recently phoned in desperation having lost a set of portraits I had taken of primary school leavers. Happily, I could replace them, but not unfortunately the other folders he had managed to delete from his wife’s memory stick that included a wedding and a once-in-a-lifetime African holiday. I am not sure if she has forgiven him yet…

  • Anita Bools ACR is the National Trust Adviser on Photographic Materials and the Chair of the Institute of Conservation Photographic Materials Group. Her current research relates to photograph albums.
  • The Weekly Witter is a new regular Monday morning mouthpiece for our many specialists to talk about what’s on their minds at the moment.

Opposition grows against an industrial development in a former quarry along Wenlock Edge

Local conservationists say it’s time to ‘heal the scar in the landscape’ 

Plans for a wood-chipping plant – currently operating without planning permission – in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), should be rejected say local conservationists.

A number of conservation organisations are opposing a retrospective application from Edge Renewables which they claim is already harming the sensitive landscape and will fail to ‘heal the scar in the landscape’ that quarrying has created.

Edge Renewables recently acquired the former Lea Quarry North from owners Aggregate Industries but the National Trust, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shropshire Ramblers and the Shropshire Geological Society argue that it is an inappropriate use of the land.

Their key objection is the impact that the development is going to have on the Shropshire Hills AONB and Wenlock Edge Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designations which should provide maximum conservation protection. The National Trust also owns, manages and provides public access to 700 acres of land along the Edge and is committed to conserving the area and encouraging greater public enjoyment of this iconic landscape.

More than 4,500 people have signed petitions and 216 people have written to Shropshire Council objecting to the controversial application, which is currently being considered by council planners. A decision is set to be made at the 29 January Shropshire planning committee meeting.

The largely retrospective application is seeking permission for log storage, wood chipping and drying as well as utilising existing buildings, which were scheduled for removal once quarrying had ceased, and new buildings, erected without any consent.

Ben Shipston, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust, said the charity is campaigning against the application because of the impact the development will have on the natural beauty of the area. He is calling on Shropshire planners to reject the application and to ensure that the original planning conditions to restore the land, which came into effect when quarrying ceased, are carried out.

“The planning framework states that once quarrying ceases, the land should be returned back to nature to essentially heal the scar on the landscape. Indeed, the planning permission for Lea Quarry North includes important restoration requirements and it has been four years since extraction last took place. There’s already an abundance of spectacular flora and fauna including beautiful orchids and European protected species such as Great Crested Newts.”

“The National Trust is supportive of renewable energy, but we strongly maintain that Edge Renewables’ timber storage and woodchip processing operation is an unnecessary and inappropriate use of this land which is located predominantly in the Shropshire Hills AONB.”

“We believe the retrospective application could also set a dangerous precedent for quarries elsewhere that have not yet been restored.”

Mr Shipston said that although Edge Renewables has announced that they plan to gift some of the site to the National Trust, the charity will not stop campaigning.

“We are willing to talk to Edge Renewables. However, we fundamentally disagree that their operation should be located at Lea Quarry North and will continue to oppose their plans.”

Beccy Speight, Director for the National Trust in the Midlands, acknowledged that the Trust had previously tried to acquire the quarries and had worked with the local community on plans to open them up to visitors, so that more people could enjoy the Wenlock Edge countryside.

 “It’s widely known that we had been in talks with the former quarry owners since 2008 regarding the possibility of us taking the quarries on to allow public access and recreation. Unfortunately our plans to safeguard the quarries have failed, so it is now even more important that Shropshire Council protects the long term future of one of its most important natural tourism assets and upholds the principles of national planning policy.”

“As a conservation and access charity our priority is to secure the long-term future of this special place, not only to protect its internationally recognised conservation value but to enable open access and enjoyment by everyone.”

George Chancellor, Chair of the Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership has voiced concerns that the planning application could also have a detrimental affect on tourism in the area.

“Cultivating tourism and protecting green spaces is a major concern for people in Much Wenlock and the surrounding area, especially to safeguard long term economic development, job creation and health and wellbeing. The Shropshire Hills AONB alone accounts for around five million annual tourist visits and the paths along the top of the quarry link to important long distance routes through the beautiful countryside.”

“Approval of this industrial development would be a damaging reflection on Shropshire Council’s commitment to sustainable tourism, which has included the AONB achieving the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and Much Wenlock being accredited as a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town.”

 Robin Mager, Planning and Data Officer with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, added:

“More than 4,500 people have already voiced their concern about the planning application, showing just how important the quarry is to local people.”

“Past quarrying activity was unavoidable if undesirable, and was subject to conditions to restore the site for nature conservation. It is now time to recognise the true potential of this amazing place which is globally renowned for its geology and is incredibly important ecologically.”

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Shropshire Council is still accepting public comments via its website or in writing to Shropshire Council Planning Department, Shire Hall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND, quoting application reference number 12/03034/MAW. There is also an online petition.