Producers meet the ‘trusted’ grade in annual awards

Forty-two products from 27 producers from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are celebrating winning a prestigious National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award this year.

The awards, supported by Freedom Food and now in their eighth year, celebrate the breadth and quality of produce grown, reared or made on special places owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.

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New Directions for the Sanu’s Last Voyage

The Sanu was one of 50 supply vessels built in 1942 for the Admiralty. In 2001, the ship set sail along the North Cornwall coast, where it was bound for dry dock near Bristol for a long overdue restoration. Sadly, during the journey the Sanu suffered engine failure and her owners were forced to take shelter in the Gannel estuary near Newquay.

A lack of engine power and high spring tides caused the Sanu to wash up on the estuary where she remained until 2012. There were many attempts to restore the ship, but with such bad damage, it proved impossible.

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Giant project up for a ‘Giant’ prize

The new Giant’s Causeway visitor’s centre at Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, one of the most coveted awards for architectural excellence.

The £18.5 million centre, designed by Heneghan Peng architects based in Dublin opened in July 2012 and is now the gateway to the 40,000 iconic basalt stones.
The centre, which took two years to build, has also been designed to fit seamlessly within the landscape without impacting the view of the coastline from the stones.

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Young farmer moves to the home of the Welsh Red Dragon

Caryl Hughes (23), a young farmer from Wales, and her eight-year old dog Mist have moved into Llyndy Isaf farm, home to the legendary red dragon of Wales, in the first ever National Trust Llyndy Isaf scholarship.

Caryl Hughes and her dog Mist move in to Llyndy Isaf. Credit Keith Morris

Caryl Hughes and her dog Mist move in to Llyndy Isaf. Credit Keith Morris

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Big Butterfly Count

More than 830,000 butterflies and day-flying moths were recorded as part of Butterfly Conservation’s annual Big Butterfly Count. Spotters throughout the UK counted four-times as many butterflies across July and August than they did last year.

One of our wildlife experts, Matthew Oates, provided his thoughts on the results of the survey: 

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Octavia Hill Awards Ceremony

This week saw the second annual ceremony for the National Trust’s Octavia Hill Awards.

Pastel drawing of Octavia Hill

The event welcomed both the runners-up and winners of its three prestigious award categories; Natural Hero, Green Space Guardian and Love Places.

Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine was on hand to host the awards, while the National Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghosh, reflected on the work of our volunteers. Read what she had to say: Continue reading

Big Brother House to open to public as ‘National Trust property’

National Trust’s London Project stirs debate on ‘what is heritage’

You may well ask why on earth the National Trust, in collaboration with Initial, an Endemol Company, and Channel 5, is opening the Big Brother House to the public. Here, in anticipation, is the answer.

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The Lake District – is it really ‘sheep-wrecked’?

Read a response from John Darlington, National Trust’s Director of Region for the North West, to George Monbiot’s article on the Lake District:

“‘Sheep-wrecked’, one of ‘the most depressing landscapes in Europe’ – hardly a ringing endorsement of the Lake District from George Monbiot in Tuesday’s Guardian.  I’m a fan of George: he’s an eloquent and passionate advocate for wildlife, and the National Trust, as owners of 1/5th of the Lakes, would be foolish not to listen to what he has to say. His challenge is that sheep-farming has denuded the environment of the fells, and that our ambition to designate the area as a World Heritage Site will lead to the pickling of this landscape in aspic, and the perpetuating one way of management to the detriment of all others. Continue reading

National Trust AGM 2013

This year the National Trust’s Annual General Meeting will take place on Saturday 26 October at St David’s Hall, Cardiff. The event gives our members the opportunity to find out more about the Trust’s work and to ask questions. Members can also vote for new members of the Trust’s Council and vote on members’ resolutions.

This year there are nine vacancies for our Council, for which 23 candidates have put themselves forward. The agenda for the meeting also includes two members’ resolutions, proposed by five members and supported by a minimum of a further 50.

The two resolutions are on:

The summary of the resolution and the Board of Trustees responses are:

Sourcing Fairtrade tea

The resolution proposes that the tea procurement policy falls in line with the National Trust report published in 2009 and that tea in all National Trust properties specifically carries the Fairtrade Mark.

The Board of Trustees is sympathetic to this resolution but has recommended that members vote against it. This is because the current tea brand used is part of the Rainforest Alliance, which shares similar goals as Fairtrade but which has a better fit with the Trust’s specific purposes.

Badger vaccination on National Trust land

The resolution  calls for the National Trust to immediately initiate a badger vaccination programme on all the land it owns, manages or controls in order to help stop the spread of bovine TB (bTB) and to prevent National Trust land being part of any proposed badger cull.

The Trust is piloting a badger vaccination programme at our Killerton Estate in Devon. However, there is insufficient evidence to support a universal roll-out of badger vaccination as a sole means of addressing bovine TB infection from badgers. There is scientific evidence that, under rigorous conditions, culling badgers as part of a package of measures can make a difference in reducing the disease in cattle. We will not support such culling on Trust land unless we are satisfied that these conditions can be substantially met.

The Board of Trustees therefore does not currently believe we should rely solely on badger vaccination, or rule out culling, so is unable to recommend members support the resolution.

A full report of both resolutions and the arguments proposed by the members and the Board of Trustees is included in the latest edition of the National Trust Magazine and online.

Details on how to vote are also available in the National Trust Magazine and online. The results will be published after the AGM. Under our constitution the outcomes of resolutions are not binding but they are taken into account by the Trust’s management in its decision making.

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National Trust – concerns remain around the Lobbying Bill

Yesterday, MPs debated the Lobbying Bill. Although it passed second reading, there were a good number of Parliamentarians who voiced their concerns about Part II of the Bill. Below we note the National Trust’s concerns and our desire for a thorough rethink of Part II of the Bill as it passes through the next stages in Parliament.

The National Trust supports greater transparency but we believe significant changes are needed to achieve an approach which improves transparency and accountability without undermining the positive role that charities play in enabling informed public policy debate. The Government has given verbal reassurances but these need to be backed by material changes if they are to remove uncertainty.

The National Trust has a long pedigree of involvement in public policy. Earlier in our history we worked in partnership with others in calling for the creation of National Parks. This resulted in a the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, a piece of legislation that over the years has protected and promoted access to many of the nation’s most loved landscapes. In the 1930s we promoted changes to allow the acceptance of historic assets in lieu of inheritance tax, which enabled the transfer into public ownership of many places of historic interest and architectural beauty for the enduring enjoyment of all.

More recently the National Trust’s Planning for People petition, calling on the government to think again on their reforms of the planning system, garnered more than 200,000 signatures from concerned members of the public. We also supported calls for a rethink on the future of the public forest estate; challenged the government to be braver in designating Marine Conservation Zones; have been involved in recent judicial reviews around the impacts of planning proposals which we believe have unacceptable detrimental impacts for places in our care; and have been working with others within and beyond the charity sector in promoting more opportunities for children to enjoy the benefits of playing outdoors and in nature.

We do all of the above in pursuit of our duty, described under our various Acts of Parliament, for promoting the permanent preservation of places of natural beauty and historic interest, and want to be confident that we are able to continue to do so.

Analysis by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, backed by legal opinion, shows that the Bill’s imprecision creates too many hostages to fortune. The Electoral Commission, which will have greater regulatory responsibilities under the new legislation, has also openly stated concern about how it will be wide open to interpretation and could impact the work of charities.

This is why we are backing calls by the NCVO for a careful rethink on Part II of the Bill.

A spokesman said: “Whilst we entirely support the intent of greater transparency, the Bill before Parliament is perplexing because it is entirely unclear in defining what is, and what is not, political lobbying.

“Significant changes are needed to ensure that we can be confident in a system which promotes transparency without undermining the positive role that organisations like the National Trust play.

“Charities play an important role in engaging citizens and politicians in informed policy debate around the charitable cause for which they stand. The Government has given verbal reassurances that this wont be undermined, but these reassurances need to be backed by material changes if they are to remove uncertainty from the Bill.”