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.”

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Adapting to a future where defence is the last resort

A clear national strategy is urgently needed to help coastal areas adapt to the twin pressures of rising sea levels and extreme weather, according to a new report published today by the National Trust.

Demolition work taking place at Birling Gap. Credit National Trust, John Miller

Demolition work taking place at Birling Gap. Credit National Trust, John Miller

As one of the UK’s biggest coastal owners, the Trust has seen many of its sites battered by the winter storms or hit hard by the high tides – with one, Birling Gap in East Sussex, experiencing seven years of erosion this winter.

These impacts have meant that the charity has had to fast-forward many decisions about land and buildings in its care, looking at how to adapt coastal places in the months ahead, rather than years or decades.

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Getting active on Trust land

A new report published today by the All Party Commission on Physical Activity has highlighted the need for greater physical activity amongst the UK population.

With news that physical inactivity accounts for nearly one-fifth of premature deaths in the UK and rising, Rob Joules, the National Trust’s Sports Partnership Manager, explains how the Trust is working with partner organisations to encourage more people to take part in sport.

“This new report highlights the growing epidemic of inactivity and the serious dangers this Visitors enjoying a game of beach volleyball at Shell Bay, Studland, Dorset. Chris Laceyposes for our children’s health. We’re working with a variety of partners to help create greater entry level sporting opportunities, which we believe are the key to encouraging more people to get active. By working with these organisations we’re focusing on developing fun, social activities that will help people lead more active lifestyles.

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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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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.”

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.”

National Trust reaction to Government announcement on badgers

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the National Trust, said: “We’re pleased that the Government has recognised the need to learn lessons from the pilots. We wrote to Defra last year expressing our deepest concerns about the conduct of the culls, so it’s encouraging that they appear to be listening.

“We welcome their commitment to looking harder at the potential of vaccination at the heart of a suite of measures to get this devastating disease under control, including funding for vaccination projects and continued efforts to reduce the risks of cattle giving other cattle the disease – still the greatest route for the infection to spread. We’ve funded our own large vaccination programme on our Killerton estate so we’re pleased Defra are now looking to support programmes like this.

“What is clear to us, as an organisation that cares about wildlife and our farm tenants who carry out much of our conservation work in the wider countryside, is that the Government’s actions must be based on sound scientific evidence and meet highest possible standards of conduct, or risk making this devastating disease even worse. We are pleased that they appear to be listening, but will need to look at the detail of the strategy and the panel’s report before concluding our position.”