Olympian Brownlee brothers to compete in triathlon at Petworth House and Park

Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee will be competing at the Macmillan Brownlee Tri South on Sunday 15 June in Petworth Park.

The pair will be taking part in the sprint relay, one of three triathlon disciplines to be held in and around the 700 acre National Trust deer park.

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National Trust locations star in Disney’s Maleficent

More than 50 years after the release of Sleeping Beauty, Disney is continuing the story with Maleficent, a live action feature film starring Angelina Jolie as Disney’s all time most popular villain and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora.

Released in cinemas on Wednesday 28th May the film was shot in the UK with two National Trust locations taking a starring role.

Petworth Park in West Sussex, which has 600 acres of grassland and rolling hills, scattered with ancient trees and tracks provided the real location for Maleficent’s Moors.

King Stefan's Castle

CGI re-imagining of Petworth Park and the Ashridge Estate

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Earliest ever UK bats born at Bodiam Castle

The earliest ever recorded wild baby bats in the UK have been born at Bodiam Castle, the National Trust property in East Sussex, it has been announced.

Baby Daubenton's bats, credit National Trust, Karen HammondThe four baby Daubenton’s bats were discovered this week by two licensed bat experts in a roost in the gatehouse of the fourteenth-century stone castle. It was estimated from their size that they were already several days old, putting the date of birth for the earliest recorded wild bat born in the UK as early as Friday 16 May.

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New chough chicks at Lizard Point

National Trust and RSPB volunteers are celebrating the arrival of new chough chicks at Lizard Point.

Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint, Credit Catherine Lee (National Trust ©)

The discovery comes after a dramatic end for the original pair who had pioneered the natural return of choughs to Cornwall in 2001, raising 46 chicks. In late May last year the male bird died defending his territory against a young male who then paired up with the female. Two weeks later she too disappeared, leaving the young male to raise the chicks alone. After a month of hard, lonely work the younger male managed to successfully raise the youngsters who fledged in July last year.

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FOUND: rare fenland violet rediscovered after absence of ten years

The rare fen violet (Viola persicifolia) has been re-discovered at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire following an absence of more than a decade – it had last been seen in 2003.

The rare fen violet found at Wicken Fen after an absence of ten years

The rare fen violet found at Wicken Fen after an absence of ten years

The fen violet is probably the most elusive of our native violet species – a tiny plant growing to maximum of 25-30mm, it has bluish-white flowers with a mother-of-pearl sheen.

The endangered species is on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and is known to exist in the wild at only 3 sites in the country (including Wicken Fen).

The plant likes a wetland habitat with alkaline water. Seeds can lie dormant in the ground for many years and will only begin to grow when the ground has been disturbed and the weather conditions are right.

Previously the violet was re-discovered at Wicken in the 1980s following an absence of more than sixty years, only to disappear again at the turn of the century.

Habitat loss along with the effects of drainage, ploughing, and lack of management on many of its former sites have all had a major part in the dramatic decline of the species.

The fen violet was re-discovered during a botanical survey undertaken on Monday 19 May.

Martin Lester, Countryside Manager at Wicken Fen said: “It’s fantastic to see the fen violet again at Wicken Fen.”

“It was a moment of satisfaction, surprise, tinged with relief that we had found it again. This delicate wetland plant is clinging on to survival not just in this country but across Europe.

“No-one can really explain why it can disappear for long periods only to reappear decades later – let’s hope it says around for a few years this time.”

Other rare plants that can found at Wicken Fen include Marsh Pea, Marsh Fern, Fibrous Tussock Sedge, Round-fruited Rush, Milk Parsley; and three rare aquatic plant species – Flat-stalked Pondweed, Long-Stalked Pondweed and Whorled Water-Milfoil.

More than 8,500 species have been recorded at Wicken Fen making it the top site for wildlife in the care of the Trust.

National Trust comment on Government fracking proposals and consultation announcement

There are very real dangers for the environment in going all out for fracking. That’s why we’d like to see specific changes to its planning and regulatory framework, including ruling out fracking in National Parks and in sensitive environmental areas.

We are concerned about the government’s proposals to amend the law of trespass and access rights for fracking and we will look carefully at them. Our position on fracking is clear – if fracking were proposed today on our land we would say no.

We look to the Government to ensure that its consultation on these major changes to access rights is fair. We would be very concerned if decisions were to be rushed to try to put changes into legislation before the election next year.

We have previously raised broader conservation concerns in our report ‘Are We Fit to Frack?’, which was written jointly with other leading countryside groups. It can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/fracking

It contains ten recommendations for making fracking safe:

  1. Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.
  2.  Make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.
  3. Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.
  4. Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of accidental pollution.
  5. Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process.
  6. Require all hydraulic fracturing operations to operate under a Groundwater Permit.
  7. Make sure the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine waste management are rigorously defined and regularly reviewed.
  8. Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.
  9. Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and independent.
  10. Minimise and monitor methane emissions.

Our full position statement on fracking can be found here.

100 Days later: Lessons from this winter’s storms

The coastline in the South West of England saw more drama than Coronation Street or EastEnders this winter. Dramatic pictures made for a compelling story as the coast was hit hard by the worst weather in living memory. National Trust coast and marine adviser Tony Flux reflects on some of the lessons from the storms 100 days after the last big weather event on Valentine’s Day:

It can be quite tricky to get your head around coastal change. Often the stretches of coast that we love to visit will appear to be changing very little during our lifetime. We think of the coast as a constant; a place that we know well.

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