Partnership brings new hope for birds of prey in the Peaks

One of the UK’s most iconic birds of prey – the peregrine falcon – is showing signs of recovery at a key breeding site in the Peak District thanks to the partnership between leading conservation bodies, volunteers and stakeholders to protect these birds.

The peregrine was almost brought to extinction in the 20th century but initiatives to revive its fortunes have been encouraging and numbers are doing well in most parts of England.  For many years though the north east Peak District has been a black-spot for peregrines, and birds of prey generally.

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Late Iron Age and Roman coins discovered in cave

An excavation in Dovedale, Derbyshire has unearthed a hoard of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins, the first time coins of these two origins are thought to have been found buried together in a cave in Britain. Continue reading

Dyffryn gardens receives Royal guests

Dyffryn Gardens hosted a visit from TRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall today to coincide with its dahlia trial centenary. Continue reading

Tim Parker to be next Chairman of National Trust

The National Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Tim Parker as its next Chairman. He will take up the role after the Annual General Meeting in Swindon on 8 November when current Chairman, Simon Jenkins, steps down.

Tim Parker

Tim Parker

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Three mountains, two days, one film – go ‘wild’ to enjoy Project Wild Thing

Screenings of documentary film at highest peaks in the UK to mark National Children’s Day UK

This weekend, The Wild Network is supporting extreme film screenings of its feature length documentary ‘Project Wild Thing’ in three of the UK’s wildest landscapes to encourage families to take their screens outdoors to help reconnect a generation of kids with nature. Continue reading

National Trust responds to Defra’s Plant Security Strategy

Today (April 30) an updated Tree Health Management Plan has been published by the Government’s Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce, alongside a wider Plant Biosecurity Strategy.

Reacting to the reports, a spokesperson at the National Trust said: “We welcome the publication of the strategy but it is unclear if there is sufficient funding or resources being allocated to this problem to really make a difference.

“Trees and plants don’t have votes so cuts to Defra’s budgets are sometimes seen as easier for Government but the consequences can be devastating for our wildlife, landscapes and rural economy.”

National Trust responds to Environmental Audit Committee findings

On the day of an EU vote on new proposals to tackle the problem of invasive non-native species at a continent-wide level, the Environmental Audit Committee is calling on the Government to revamp the system for controlling invasive species in England and Wales.

Its key recommendations are to work together more effectively, to do more work in identifying invasive species which pose a threat to the UK more quickly; and to introduce an early surveillance system which would then trigger action which would result in eradication.

Responding to the report, David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust said: “Tackling invasive non-native species needs public agencies and voluntary organisations to work more effectively together, so we’re pleased this is a key recommendation from the Committee. But we also need agencies to be much more innovative in the way they detect and monitor threats. Better coordination and more effective detection will become even more important as climate change and globalisation add to the challenges the UK faces.”

National Trust garden gems to feature in new BBC Four series

Three National Trust gardens are set to feature in a new BBC Four series uncovering the rich social and horticultural history of four British heritage landscapes with the first episode airing tonight at 9pm.

The four-part series, British Gardens in Time, explores the grand Georgian landscape at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (NT), Biddulph Grange, a superb example of a Victorian garden in Staffordshire (NT), the romantic turn-of-the-century Nymans in West Sussex (NT) and Christopher Lloyd’s dazzling 20th century garden, Great Dixter in East Sussex which is privately-run.

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

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Putting ‘brownfield first’ at the heart of the planning system

As the Communities and Local Government Select Committee launches an inquiry today into the National Planning Policy Framework the National Trust gives its reaction:

“The Communities and Local Government Select Committee played a key role in improving the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as it was being drafted, and so we’re pleased it will be looking at how these planning rules are being implemented and understood.

“The Government’s clear intention is to deliver a brownfield first approach and protect our Green Belt and special areas of countryside, yet this does not seem to be happening on the ground. Evidence we have gathered suggests some councils feel unable to prioritise brownfield site development and maintain their Green Belt, and two years on from the adoption of the NPPF, there are still only 52% of councils with an approved local plan in place. We will be sharing our concerns with the Committee, and hope its inquiry will help to solve this problem.”

After the flood…moving beyond the blame game

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Chairman of the Environment Agency Chris Smith will be giving oral evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Afairs Select Committee today on the winter flooding. Assistant Director of External Affairs, Richard Hebditch, reflects on missed opportunities and learning the lessons.

Few of us can have failed to notice and feel sympathy for those affected by the extensive flooding over the winter. Not surprisingly, this was seen as a test for Ministers – were they capable of responding quickly to help those affected but also to set out the long term measures needed to deal with what will be a growing problem as climate change adds to extreme weather events.

But perhaps inevitably, the response in the winter turned into a blame game between local MPs, the NFU, Government Ministers and the Environment Agency.

But since then there’s been some progress on identifying common ground – Defra will set out in the Autumn a long-term plan for dealing with the increased risk of floods and we’ve seen the publication of a 20 year flood action plan for the Levels that recognises that a wider catchment based approach is needed, alongside some desilting of channels. Even those calling most loudly for more dredging are now calling for a more holistic approach with work to slow up water upstream , as in our own project at Holnicote.

But today, we could be seeing a return to the blame game. The House of Commons select committee overseeing the work of Defra have chosen to only focus on maintenance and dredging in their inquiry on the winter floods. We think that’s a mistake. Although the Committee had an inquiry last year on flooding and say that that dealt with those issues, it’s clear that only focusing on this narrow agenda after the floods will give a biased view of the actions we need.

For instance, the role of holding and slowing water in upper catchment areas won’t be covered, and the role of whether subsidies for farming add to the problem of silting up rivers or increasing run off from fields is off limits.

Today, the Committee will be hearing from the Environment Agency’s Chris Smith and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. With the publication this week of the IPCC’s report on the impacts of climate change, this should be a chance to explore how we can all deal with the increased threat of flooding. Instead, the Committee is in danger of missing the point, serving the interests of those who want to avoid the bigger challenge of changing farming practices or working across a wider catchment and instead want to focus on just one aspect of water management.