National Trust reaction to Environmental Audit Committee report on HS2 and the Environment

Peter Nixon, Director of Land, Landscape & Nature, said: “We’re pleased that the Environmental Audit Committee has listened to the environmental concerns raised during this inquiry. The evidence we submitted called for HS2 Ltd to aim fora net gain for biodiversity, for independent review of overlapping assessments of impact and for a technical dispute resolution method.

“As a conservation organisation that cares about wildlife we are concerned about the effectiveness of some of the proposed ecological measures, the efficacy of habitat relocation around the route, the baseline data and the vagueness of some of the proposals. The Government’s actions here must be based on sound scientific evidence.

“We also welcome continued monitoring of the environmental implications from HS2 and a separate mitigation and compensation budget. It’s vital that concerns are properly heard, that the impacts of the railway are properly addressed and that the best solutions are found for the people and places affected. HS2 mustn’t end up cutting corners at the expense of the environment.”

National Trust reaction to Sir David Higgins ‘HS2 Plus’ report

Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director for the National Trust, said: “No-one wants unnecessary costs associated with HS2 so we welcome measures which bear down on avoidable spending. But HS2 is a once in a lifetime project so it’s important that this doesn’t mean compromising on quality. It’s vital that local concerns continue to be heard, that the impacts of the railway are properly addressed and that the best solutions are found for the people and places affected. HS2 mustn’t end up cutting corners at the expense of the environment.”

National Trust statement in response to the State Opening of Parliament and reference to HS2 in the Queen’s Speech

A National Trust spokesman said: “The inclusion of HS2 in today’s Parliamentary proceedings comes as no surprise, given their published timetable for phase one of the high speed train link between London and Birmingham.

“We are neither for nor against high speed rail in principle, but we remain opposed to the route of HS2 because of its impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and specifically on our places Coombe Hill, Hartwell House and Waddesdon Estate near Aylesbury.

“With the time we have before the hybrid Bill is deposited, we will continue to work hard with stakeholders and communities to achieve local consensus on what mitigation is appropriate, and negotiate with HS2 Ltd to ensure the scheme is the best it can possibly be.”

Ends

For more information please contact:

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

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

 

Notes to editors:

The National Trust is a conservation charity, wholly independent from Government, which 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/

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/

National Trust reveals vision for HS2 around Aylesbury

Proposals for an improved design for HS2 around Aylesbury, if it goes ahead, have been revealed by the National Trust today.

Whilst being neutral over the principle of HS2, the National Trust opposes the specific proposed route in the Aylesbury area and through the Chilterns AONB.

This is because of its landscape and other impacts, especially on Hartwell House, where it would require the acquisition of the Trust’s land.

The plans revealed today show how the impact on hundreds of people’s lives and the special places they care about could be reduced if HS2 Ltd plans for mitigation on a big enough scale.

This would include acquiring additional land either side of the railway line to give room for the necessary landscaping and other measures, such as creating a 600m long ’land bridge’ for the route as it crosses through the Hartwell House estate and next to Fairford Leys – where many local people will be heavily affected by the railway.

This would involve building the land up on either side of the line, then placing a lid on top, with vegetation and tree planting covering it. Wide, landscaped embankments which would screen trains and conceal noise barriers and security fencing also feature.

A range of specialist consultants, including experts in rail engineering, landscape character, landscape architecture, noise and hydrology have been brought in by the National Trust to advise on the best possible mitigation over an 8km stretch of the line from Stoke Mandeville, around Aylesbury and up to Waddesdon.

Since the route for HS2 was published in January this year, the Trust has been talking to local authorities, parish councils, landowners, other charities and organisations, as well as HS2 Ltd, aiming for proposals which take into account the views of as many people as possible who are affected by the line.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation for the National Trust, said: “Although HS2 is still not a foregone conclusion, and we object to the route chosen, in case it does go ahead it’s sensible for us to negotiate for the best scheme which minimises its impact for as many people as possible and on the special places they care about.

“We hope our proposals, which draw on our practical experience elsewhere, raise expectations of what could be achieved.

“There is still a lot of detail to work up. This would have to be done with HS2 Ltd, the community, local authorities and landowners and we believe a collaborative approach here will deliver the best scheme if HS2 does go ahead.

“We hope that HS2 Ltd and the Government will adopt this scheme, however we have also been clear that if this is not the case we would be prepared to petition Parliament in order to try and get the scheme included in the necessary legislation.”

The current proposed route of HS2 will pass directly through the Hartwell House estate which has an international history and significance stretching back almost a thousand years to the reign of Edward the Confessor.

It also passes within view of Coombe Hill in the Chilterns; through the Waddesdon Estate which has a Victorian garden thought to be one of best in Britain; and close to Claydon House, once home to Florence Nightingale.

The scheme has already received backing from a number of local groups.

Councillor Steven Lambert, Chairman of Coldharbour Parish Council, said: “While we continue to oppose HS2 and support the need for a Judicial Review of it, we are pleased the National Trust has been pushing for proper mitigation around Aylesbury if HS2 is to go ahead. The needs of local people and our local environment need to be given equal weighting to any perceived economic benefits of a final scheme.

“We’ve been in discussion with the National Trust from an early stage on their thinking about HS2 in our area and we think this scheme would provide ample noise and visual intrusion mitigation for both sides of the track and opportunities for increased access to a new green space.”
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The plans also include the provision of new flood meadow habitiats, improved recreational areas and more access to the countryside for the people of Aylesbury.

For more information see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hs2

To see more of the proposals visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jvz46q1k39tu54s/Bo67mPaTUr

Record number of products win coveted food award

Forty-three products from 27 food and drink producers from across England and Wales are celebrating winning a prestigious National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award, the highest number of products to ever receive this much sought after ‘stamp’ of quality [1].

The awards, supported by Freedom Food [2] and now in their seventh 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.

Winners this year include stoneground flour, dark ale, apple juice, North Devon beef, venison, red wine and onion sausages and dressed brown crab.  They will all now be able to use the coveted Fine Farm Produce Award marque to help market their products.

Five new producers won awards and a total of 18 new products received the coveted ‘stamp’ for the first time, including pork chipolata sausages from Chyvarloe Farm in Cornwall and Wild Venison and Hazelnut Terrine from cnwd (pronounced Can-old) in south-west Wales.

This year’s overall winner – as voted by the team of seven judges [3] – was cooked salt beef, made from Sussex-cross cattle raised on the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey Estate in Surrey.

Farmer and butcher Steve Conisbee said: “We’ve been entering the awards for the past six years for various different products as we find it really helps give us a point of difference with customers.

“Customers can buy with confidence knowing that they are buying a quality product – which not only tastes good, thanks to the high quality pasture land on which it is bred – but has met various standards including high animal welfare.

“We take great pride in what we do and winning the award is really important to us and makes a real difference to our business.”

Umami Seasoning from The Mushroom Garden in North Wales won this year’s most innovative product award.

The Umami is made from dried shiitake mushroom powder grown in specially adapted growing rooms on National Trust land in the foothills of Snowdonia, dried seaweed and Anglesey sea-salt.  The seasoning is used as a meat tenderiser, or to enhance mushroom flavour in any mushroom based dishes.

Judges were impressed with both its taste and the innovation behind the product development.

Cynan Jones, owner of The Mushroom Garden, said: “We’re one of the National Trust’s smallest tenanted rural businesses, yet this year we have won one of the key awards!  We grow our shiitake and oyster mushrooms in four growing rooms and use other Welsh, local ingredients wherever possible in both the maim and the mushroom caviar, which also won an award this year, to give our products a unique and regional taste.”

Rob Macklin, national agriculture and food adviser at the National Trust and chair of the judging panel, said:  “This year’s award winning foods have really captured the essence of the special place where they have been grown, bred or produced.  It is our aim to really connect customers to where their food comes from and these awards are a great way for us to do this.

“Each award winner goes through a tough judging process.  Even before judging begins, all products have to meet provenance, environmental and animal welfare standards, and all primary ingredients must meet high production assurance [4].

“Products that successfully pass this check are subjected to a vigorous blind taste test by a panel of judges.

“The appearance, preparation, colour, aroma, texture and taste all have to be at least as good as a high quality, commercially available alternative, to win an award.  Judging is therefore harsh but fair.”

The National Trust cares for half a million acres of farmland across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It works closely with its properties and tenants to help them develop high quality products.

Rob continued: “Since 2006, over 200 products have received a Fine Farm Produce Award and this year’s winners will join a group of some of the very best producers that the country has to offer.”

This year’s judging panel included Henrietta Green, food writer, broadcaster and founder of FoodLoversBritain.com; Lizzie Kamenetsky, food editor of delicious. magazine and Richard McGeown, chef patron at Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.

A full list of the award winners and details of their produce can be found online at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/finefarmproduceawards

[1] The following National Trust tenants and in-hand producers have received a Fine Farm Produce Award for 2012.  Case studies for each winner are available on our FTP site – details above.

  • Aberdaron Seafood, Dressed Brown Crab, Gwynedd
  • Ashclyst Farm Dairy, Organic Whole Milk, Organic Semi-Skinned Milk and Organic Clotted Cream, Devon New producer and first time wins for all products
  • Barrington Court Estate, South Somerset Blended Apple Juice, Medium Farmhouse Cider, Dry Farmhouse Cider Somerset
  • Beef into Booths, Traditional Dry Aged Beef, North West and Yorkshire
  • Belton Estate, Fallow Deer Venison, Lincolnshire
  • Beningbrough Home Farm, Aberdeen Angus Beef, Yorkshire
  • Brockhampton Estate, Damson chutney, Worcestershire chutney wins for the first time
  • Burrow Farm, Red Devon Beef Topside Devon
  • Charlecote Park, Venison and Honey, Warwickshire New producer and first time wins for both products
  • Chyvarloe Farm, Pork Chipolata Sausages, Cornwall– New producer and first time win
  • Clyston Mill, Stoneground Flour, Devon
  • F Conisbee & Son Farming Partnership, Cooked Salt Beef, Pave Rump Medallions and Turkey Breast, Surrey– cooked salt beef – overall winner and first time entered. Rump medallions and turkey breast also win for the first time
  • cnwd Towy Valley Wild Venison and Hazelnut Terrine, CarmarthenshireNew producer and first time winner
  • Cwmcerrig Farm Shop – Dinefwr Venison and Dinefwr Venison, Red Wine and Onion Sausages, CarmarthenshireNew producer and first time wins for both products
  • Dolaucothi Estate, Lamb, Carmarthenshire
  • Home Farm, Red Devon Beef, Cornwall
  • Jacobi Brewery, Dark Ale, Carmarthenshire – first time win for dark ale
  • Killerton Estate, Apple Juice, Medium Dry Cider, Charcoal, Devon
  • Killerton Kitchen, Apple Chutney, Devon
  • Ochr Cefn Isa, Free-Range Eggs, Conwy, North Wales
  • Parke Farm, Apple Juice, Devon
  • Tanwood Products, Damson Chutney, Worcestershire first time win for this chutney
  • Trehill Farm, Pembrokeshire New Potatoes, Pembrokeshire
  • The Mushroom Garden, Mushroom Caviar and Umami Seasoning, Gwynedd – Umami wins most innovative product award and first time win for mushroom caviar
  • The Westerham Brewery Company, British Bulldog, Scotney Pale Ale, Scotney Best Bitter and William Wilberforce Freedom Ale, Kent – British Bulldog wins for the first time
  • Wimpole Home Farm, Pork Sausages, Organic Duck Eggs and Organic Chicken Eggs, Cambridgeshire
  • Yew Tree Farm, Herdwick Hogget, Cumbria

[2] Freedom Food is an arm of the RSPCA dedicated to farm animal welfare.  When you see the freedom Food logo you know that animals have been kept to strict RSPCA welfare standards.  Freedom Food is one of the key requirements for meat and dairy products entered into the Fine Farm Produce Awards to demonstrate higher welfare standards for farm animals.  See www.freedomfood.co.uk for more information.

[3] Seven judges presided on the panel this year:

  • Henrietta Green, founder of FoodLoversBritain.com and who has helped direct the awards since they began in 2006
  • Lizzie Kamenetzky, food editor of delicioius. Magazine
  • Bob Waller, Freedom Food
  • Richard McGeown, chef patron of Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.  Richard, who prepared all the food for tasting, has been working on the awards for the past three years
  • Lynda Brewer, catering development manager at the National Trust
  • Phillippa Green, food brand licensing manager at the National Trust
  • Debbie Schreiber, deputy editor of the National Trust Magazine

[4] The criteria that need to be met before producers can receive the Fine Farm Produce Award are:

  • Each producer from a National Trust tenant farm, National Trust managed farm or farmland will be assessed against National Trust Environment Standards for Farms by National Trust staff.
  • All farm livestock and dairy products must be certified organic or Freedom Food (RSPCA) assured.  Arable and field crops are expected to be organic or hold the Leaf Marque or Conservation Grade.
  • Food and drink products are then subject to a taste panel where the key criteria are appearance, preparation, colour, aroma, texture and flavour.

Food and Farming at the National Trust

  • The National Trust believes in using quality, local, seasonal and sustainable food.   It matters that we know where our food comes from, how the crops were grown and that animals are properly cared for.
  • The National Trust helps and encourages farmers to manage their farms to high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards.   We work with our farmers to help them add value to the food they produce and to get a better return.
  • The National Trust is the largest non-governmental landowner in Britain, owning approximately 250,000 hectares of land across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than 80 per cent of the Trust’s land is farmed or is dependent upon farming for its management.
  • There are 1,500 individual farm tenants including 700 whole farms on National Trust land with a further 1,300 separate areas of land rented out to farmers. Seventy per cent of farms on Trust land participate in agri-environment schemes.
  • The Trust directly manages 25 farms itself including Wimpole Home Farm in Cambridgeshire, Hafod-y-Llan in Snowdonia and Llanerchaeron in mid-Wales along with over 300 further areas of farmland.
  • Seven per cent of farms on National Trust land are registered as organic, including the award winning Coleshill Organics in Oxfordshire (three awards in the 2004 Organic Food Awards) This compares to a national average of four per cent.
  • The Trust’s cooks and catering teams look first to their property or estate for produce, and then to their county, their region and from around the UK.

The National Trust is passionate about using local and seasonal food in its 150 tearooms and cafés.  Many of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Award winners feature on the menus at their local National Trust property as well as selling either through their own farm shop, their local National Trust shop, direct to customers or on-line.

Getting kids into nature starts at home, inquiry finds

Parents need more support to make the outdoors a part of everyday family life if we’re to avoid rearing a generation completely cut off from the natural world, an inquiry by the National Trust has found.

The Natural Childhood Inquiry – which sought submissions from experts and the public on the barriers and the solutions for children’s connection with nature – found that children’s love of nature is best started in the home. The Inquiry follows on from a report for the National Trust by award winning nature author and wildlife TV producer Stephen Moss, published in March, which documented children’s declining connection with the outdoors and nature.

Inquiry respondents said parents need more accessible child and family-friendly green and natural spaces and that opportunities for children to access and enjoy nature need to be promoted in a more joined-up fashion, and in ways that appeal more to families and children.

Much more could be made of the smaller everyday opportunities for children to play outdoors close to home to connect with nature on their doorstep and parents should look to draw more on networks of family and friends, especially grandparents, to help share the load of their children getting outdoors more.

Time learning and playing outdoors also needs to become a bigger element of the typical school day.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “It is clear from the huge public response that our Natural Childhood report struck a chord with the nation.

“Parents want their children to have a better connection with nature, but they don’t feel completely confident in how to make that happen in a safe and stimulating way.

“Our inquiry showed that there is widespread agreement that this is an important issue and that now is the time to act.  The worlds of conservation, government, education and child welfare need to work together with families and communities to find solutions.

“As an organisation founded on the principle that people need access to open spaces, the National Trust is bringing together leaders in all these fields to discuss how to tackle this issue together”.

The Inquiry however recognised that there were some big barriers to a closer relationship with nature. These include excessive health and safety rules, the rise of indoor entertainment competing for children’s time and attention, traffic dangers, over-stuffed school days, and the poor quality and accessibility of green and natural spaces in many communities.

Research with children and parents commissioned by the National Trust to accompany today’s publication of the inquiry findings strongly validates these conclusions.

A YouGov survey [1] of 419 UK parents of under 13s revealed that a range of parental fears and concerns could be preventing children from getting the most of the outdoors.

Stranger danger (37%), lack of safe nearby outdoor places to play (25%) and too much traffic (21%) were the top ranked barriers amongst parents of children aged 12 or under.

Just short of half (45 per cent) of parents of pre-teens identified ‘more local safe places to play’ as the thing which would most encourage them to let their children get outdoors and explore more where they lived.  The other two top solutions supported by parents were ‘more supervised play spaces’ (32%) and ‘more activities organised by schools or youth groups’ (31%).

Qualitative research by Children’s research specialists Childwise found that children also express concerns about safety, often picked up from their parents, around issues such as traffic risks, perceptions that activities such as climbing trees being seen as too risky, or anxious parents reinforcing messages around the outdoors being dangerous such as “don’t go out in the rain in case you slip or catch a cold”.

Tim Gill, author of Rethinking Childhood and leading expert on childhood and risk, and a speaker at the summit, said: “It’s perfectly natural for parents to want to protect their children. But it’s also a simple fact that children can only become confident and capable adults if they are allowed to take some responsibility for themselves as they grow up.

“When children play outdoors and in nature, they have adventures and challenges that prepare them for the everyday ups and downs of life. At the same time, the risks that make many people anxious are often over-estimated.

“A more balanced, thoughtful approach is desperately needed. We have to start recognising the benefits of spending time out of doors, rather than just looking out for the risks.”

The National Trust are today (25 September) hosting a Natural Childhood Summit bringing together community leaders, charities, local government, corporate partners and academic experts to build consensus around action needed to give every child the opportunity to form a personal connection with the natural world.

The summit seeks to build a partnership which works to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to form a connection with nature before they reach 12 years of age [2]. But support from the public, policymakers and politicians is required to make that happen.

As part of its response to the lack of connection between kids and nature the National Trust launched its 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’s campaign in May.  More than 250 Trust places took part and in the first two months more than 200,000 activity scrapbooks given away and nearly 20,000 users registered on the 50 Things website.

 

[1] The total sample size of the parents study, conducted by YouGov Plc., was 2072 adults of which 419 were parents of children aged 12 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th and 12th September.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[2] Current supporters of the Natural Childhood Summit and partners in the campaign are Arla Food, Britdoc, Green Lions, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Play England, Play Wales and Playboard Northern Ireland.

David Pencheon, Director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, said:  “Developing communities sustainably is not just about carbon reduction and building design. It is also about the role of the natural environment in allowing a lifestyle that promotes health and wellbeing. Providing opportunities for children to be active and adventurous provides long term positive impacts for individuals and is an important part of reducing health problems in later life.”

Catherine Prisk, Director of Play England, said: More than ever we live in a hectic, pressurised world. Children need to be free of that, to have the time, space and freedom to play out, to make friends, explore their world, have adventures big and small. If they don’t have freedom to play, think of the consequences for their health, the way they relate to people and their community, and most of all the consequences to their happiness.

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of Playboard NI, said: “The demise of outdoor play and the growth of more screen based sedentary activities is fast becoming a major contributor of health problems in childhood.  Those of us whom work with children know that children are biologically predisposed to create, explore and manipulate their play environment; therefore we need to do more to get children outside playing in natural surroundings. We need to reconnect children with nature.   Not only is this crucially important for children’s holistic development, the physical experience and social interaction enjoyed in playing outdoors also helps children gain an appreciation and respect for the natural world around them”.

Mike Greenway, Director of Play Wales, said: “It is natural for children to play outside in a natural environment. Not to play outside is by implication unnatural. The complexity that nature offers children cannot be replicated artificially. Any attempt to create a virtual alternative will be a poor imitation; and why would we want to? The natural environment provides the widest range of opportunities for play; play that facilitates physical and emotional development. Playing is how children find their place in the world, in time and space. As a species we have evolved outdoors. It is a no brainer! Children know they need to be outside, playing; when we ask them they tell us so. Why would we not want children to have a natural childhood? The fact that we are even having this debate is an indication that something in our society is wrong and needs fixing.”

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/