National Trust – Farming in the Lakes

Mike Innerdale, Assistant Director of Operations in the North, said:

The majority of our farms in the Lakes are leased on multi-generational or life-time tenancies (51 out of 91) under specific legislation. The rest of our tenancies are offered for an average minimum length of 15-years, which is three times longer than the national average and goes well beyond the 10-year minimum the Tenants’ Farmers Association has been calling for across the industry.

We want to maintain and  build strong, long-term relationships with our farm tenants in the Lakes: they need to know we’re committed to them and supporting them –  so that they have the confidence to invest in their business.  We will be writing to all our tenants in the Lakes to reassure them of our long-term commitment to hill farming and hill  farmers. We are also discussing with farming representatives about how we make the tenancy renewal process as fair, transparent and open as possible. We want long-term tenants and there’s no reason why tenancies wouldn’t be renewed if both parties are happy.

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Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill – Queen’s Speech

Reacting to the announcement of Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill in the Queen’s Speech today Richard Hebditch, External Affairs Director at the National Trust said:

“It sounds like there could be some positive measures around neighbourhood planning in the new Bill, but overall we’re concerned that further reforms could create more confusion and uncertainty about what the rules are, and not solve the real problems with housing delivery.

“We’ll look carefully at proposals to restrict the use of planning conditions. Concerns about wildlife, archaeology, landscape and impact on communities will always have to be considered – that is what we have a planning system for. The best place to do this is as part of a planning application, rather than through using conditions. Government should be clear that if developers cannot address concerns about impacts on nature, heritage and green spaces, councils will be able to refuse applications.

“We’re worried that planning is becoming a service for developers rather than a balanced, independent process. There is a danger that that too often, planning permission can be pushed through – even where it goes against a council’s local plan. Even our finest landscapes and important green space like National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belts are under pressure.”

National Trust welcomes CLG committee report into government’s planning reforms

 

Commenting on the publication of the CLG committee’s report today (Friday, April 1) on changes to the government’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director at the Trust, said:

“The changes to the NPPF are just one part of the biggest shake-up of planning since the NPPF itself was controversially introduced in 2012. We share the committee’s concerns about these further reforms. They’re too piecemeal, rushed and confusing so we welcome the call for a thorough, evidence-based review of the effectiveness of planning policy.

“We know from the big campaign over the NPPF that the public want a planning system that is able to deliver the homes we need but not by carelessly allowing our countryside to be sacrificed. So we’re particularly pleased that the committee is calling for a different approach on the small sites proposal and the housing delivery test which are particularly worrying.

“These two measures from DCLG could see the constant expansion of rural towns and villages into the countryside and developers being able to pick and choose more greenfield sites over brownfield. Some greenfield sites may be needed for housing but this has to be done through the Local Plan to protect the natural environment and avoid developers being able to bypass the local community.

“It’s important that the government gets any reform right rather than rushing into changes. The wording in the consultation was often high level and lacking in detail so ministers should listen to MPs and agree to consult again on the precise wording of changes to the NPPF. We look forward to working with DCLG to get the final wording right.”

National Trust response to Spending Review

The National Trust outlines below its response to the Spending Review announcements made today.

Richard Hebditch, External Affairs Director for the National Trust, said: “The Government’s commitment to ensure the new commercial model for English Heritage will have sufficient funding is very welcome, as is recognition of the importance of heritage, and Historic England, more generally. Within Defra’s budgets, we’re particularly pleased to see the protection of funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and public forests. In the last Parliament, Nick Clegg also announced funding for Natural England to complete the England Coastal Path by 2020 but we have to see confirmation that that funding will continue – we trust it will.

“Though there has been good news in terms of some of DCMS and Defra’s settlements, we’re disappointed to see further reforms proposed for the planning system, on top of those proposed in the Housing and Planning Bill. Local council planning teams have been cut back by more than 40% in the last five years. Further changes to planning rules will place additional burdens on these teams, and risk destabilising the Government’s plans for good quality housebuilding.”

National Trust responds to Amber Rudd’s speech on climate change

In her first major speech as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd has today set out the government’s approach to combating climate change.

A National Trust spokesperson said: “Climate change is having major impacts on the natural and historic environment. We aim to play our part in reducing emissions from our own activities through our renewables programme. We want to see strong leadership from the government abroad. This must be backed up by an ambitious set of polices to reduce emissions and the impact of climate change at home.”

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National Trust statement on volunteering

Volunteers currently support the National Trust by performing over 200 different roles, including as room guides, rangers, event managers, conservation assistants and even business mentors.

In the last ten years, the Trust has seen its volunteer community grow to over 61,000, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.

The number of volunteers, who support us on a regular basis, remains unchanged at around 40,000 and interest in volunteering at the Trust remains high. In some places there are even waiting lists in place for volunteers.

We however recognise that demographic patterns are changing: people will retire later and may find themselves caring for grandchildren or elderly parents.

The way people will want to volunteer their time is also likely to change in future. Our research shows people want a more flexible approach to fit in with their busy lives.

We are already responding to this challenge and have been working with staff and volunteers for a number of years to adapt our approach. This helped inform our 10-year volunteering strategy, which also looked at how we can make sure we continue to be attractive to new volunteers.

We know people will only give up their time if they enjoy volunteering at the Trust and that their skills, passion and interests are well-matched to the roles they are offered.

In our 2014 volunteer survey, 97% said they enjoyed their volunteering with the NT. And 96% said they would recommend volunteering with the NT.

We’re always keen to hear from people who want to volunteer with us. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the volunteer opportunities available should contact their local property or look at our website.

National Trust responds to proposed changes to the planning system

Commenting on the government’s proposed changes to the planning system, Rick Hebditch, External Affairs Director at the National Trust, said:

“The planning system is not a barrier to a productive society, it is a key tool to help deliver one. We recognise the need to build more housing so we want to see every council with a local plan in place to deliver those homes. But local authorities have lost more than 40% of their planning team budgets in recent years so it will be hard for them to rise to this challenge while facing the threat of further sanctions with no offer of more support from central government.

“Local plans can also put local communities in the driving seat and facilitate good quality, well designed development in the right places. Today’s announcement on overriding councils and removing the planning approval process on brownfield land appears to do the opposite.

“The commitment to retain the Green Belt and prevent sprawl is, however, welcome.”

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