National Trust statement: Car parking at our countryside and coastal locations

Our 4.7 million members continue to park for free.  Non-members have been charged to park at many of our countryside and coastal locations for some time. 


Over the past two years we have been gradually introducing pay and display machines at car parks with over 25 spaces, replacing the ‘person in a hut’ and donation box models.


The money we raise helps us look after the coast, countryside and footpaths that we would otherwise not be able to do.


Special arrangements have been made at Levant for the descendants of people killed in the mine disaster to park for free.


Funds raised from car parking will be used to maintain and improve car park facilities, help with footpath repairs, marking out new pathways to improve access and further aid visitor enjoyment and funding conservation projects to encourage wildlife. 


Charges will vary depending on location and the average car park fee will be £1 an hour and up to £5 for a whole day. 


We want people to visit and enjoy the special places in our care and we need to get the basics right in terms of providing good facilities while balancing this with caring for the surrounding countryside and wildlife, and in the face of rising conservation costs. 


As Britain’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust cares for over 250,000 hectares of countryside and 775 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Over 200 million visits are made every year to our countryside and coastline putting increasing pressure on the landscape and facilities. 


National Trust – concerns remain around the Lobbying Bill

Yesterday, MPs debated the Lobbying Bill. Although it passed second reading, there were a good number of Parliamentarians who voiced their concerns about Part II of the Bill. Below we note the National Trust’s concerns and our desire for a thorough rethink of Part II of the Bill as it passes through the next stages in Parliament.

The National Trust supports greater transparency but we believe significant changes are needed to achieve an approach which improves transparency and accountability without undermining the positive role that charities play in enabling informed public policy debate. The Government has given verbal reassurances but these need to be backed by material changes if they are to remove uncertainty.

The National Trust has a long pedigree of involvement in public policy. Earlier in our history we worked in partnership with others in calling for the creation of National Parks. This resulted in a the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, a piece of legislation that over the years has protected and promoted access to many of the nation’s most loved landscapes. In the 1930s we promoted changes to allow the acceptance of historic assets in lieu of inheritance tax, which enabled the transfer into public ownership of many places of historic interest and architectural beauty for the enduring enjoyment of all.

More recently the National Trust’s Planning for People petition, calling on the government to think again on their reforms of the planning system, garnered more than 200,000 signatures from concerned members of the public. We also supported calls for a rethink on the future of the public forest estate; challenged the government to be braver in designating Marine Conservation Zones; have been involved in recent judicial reviews around the impacts of planning proposals which we believe have unacceptable detrimental impacts for places in our care; and have been working with others within and beyond the charity sector in promoting more opportunities for children to enjoy the benefits of playing outdoors and in nature.

We do all of the above in pursuit of our duty, described under our various Acts of Parliament, for promoting the permanent preservation of places of natural beauty and historic interest, and want to be confident that we are able to continue to do so.

Analysis by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, backed by legal opinion, shows that the Bill’s imprecision creates too many hostages to fortune. The Electoral Commission, which will have greater regulatory responsibilities under the new legislation, has also openly stated concern about how it will be wide open to interpretation and could impact the work of charities.

This is why we are backing calls by the NCVO for a careful rethink on Part II of the Bill.

A spokesman said: “Whilst we entirely support the intent of greater transparency, the Bill before Parliament is perplexing because it is entirely unclear in defining what is, and what is not, political lobbying.

“Significant changes are needed to ensure that we can be confident in a system which promotes transparency without undermining the positive role that organisations like the National Trust play.

“Charities play an important role in engaging citizens and politicians in informed policy debate around the charitable cause for which they stand. The Government has given verbal reassurances that this wont be undermined, but these reassurances need to be backed by material changes if they are to remove uncertainty from the Bill.”

Helen Ghosh takes over as National Trust Director-General

The National Trust’s new Director-General, Dame Helen Ghosh, spent her first day yesterday (Monday 12 November) meeting staff, volunteers and visitors at Chirk Castle and Powis Castle & Gardens in Wales.

She is embarking on a ‘listening tour’ of National Trust places where she’ll meet people involved at all different levels of the organisation to build her understanding of how the charity works.

Dame Helen Ghosh, Day 1 at Chirk Castle

“At both Chirk and Powis castles I found fantastic, energetic people,” said Helen. “It reminded me that this wonderful mosaic of staff, volunteers and visitors is what makes the Trust what it is.”

She takes over from Dame Fiona Reynolds who stepped down on Saturday (10 November) at the National Trust AGM after 12 years leading the organisation.

National Trust members say farewell to Dame Fiona

Dame Fiona Reynolds stepped down as Director-General of the National Trust this Saturday (10 November) as 600 members gathered in Swindon for the charity’s AGM.

She leaves the National Trust after 11 years in charge, during which time she has increased membership from 2.7 to 4 million, guided the charity to financial solvency and reconnected the organisation with its original founding purpose.

Fiona is leaving to become Master of Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge in the autumn of 2013, where she will be the first woman to be elected Master in the College’s history.

Fiona said: “I have loved every minute leading the National Trust and working with our passionate and dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters. 

“I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved in the last 11 years. 

“There is no organisation like it and I will miss it terribly.  But it is time to allow someone else an opportunity to make their mark.”

Simon Jenkins, National Trust Chairman, said: “Fiona has presided over a triumphant era in the history of the National Trust.

“Her strategic vision and personal leadership have made it one of Britain’s most popular institutions.

“She guided us with panache, first to financial solvency and then to four million members. We shall miss her, and wish her every success in the future.”


 Notes to Editors:

Biopic of Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, Director-General of the National Trust (2001-2012)

Fiona Reynolds was born on 29 March 1958 in Alston, Cumbria. She attended Rugby High School for Girls (1969-76) before going to Newnham College, Cambridge University, where she studied Geography and Land Economy (1976-79) before completing an MPhil in Land Economy, also at Cambridge (1980-81).

Before joining the Trust as Director-General, Fiona was previously Director of the Women’s Unit in the Cabinet Office (1998-2000), Director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) (1992-98), Assistant Director (Policy) at CPRE (1987-92), and Secretary to the Council for National Parks (1980-1987).

She married Robert Merrill – who runs the local Riding for the Disabled group – in 1981. They have three daughters and live near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. Her favourite ways to relax are walking, cycling, reading and listening to classical music.

Fiona was awarded the CBE for “services to the environment and conservation” in 1998 and was appointed DBE in 2008 for “services to heritage and conservation”.

National Trust

Fiona was involved with the Trust for many years prior to becoming Director-General, as a member of the Trust’s Council, the Thames and Chilterns regional committee, and chairing the local committee for Sutton House in Hackney.

She became Director-General of the National Trust in January 2001. Since then, she has overseen a period of transformational change at the National Trust, reconnecting the organisation with its original founding purpose and infusing it with warmth and liveliness. 

From her earliest days at the Trust, Fiona pioneered an ‘arms open’ approach to conservation, bringing expert work out from behind closed doors to take place in front of visitors, now an integral part of the Trust’s programme to bring places to life. 

She has overseen a restructure of the governance of the charity, from a 52-member Council to a 12-member Board of Trustees, as well as two major internal restructures which have strengthened and localised the organisation. This included bringing all of the Trust’s central office teams under one roof – the purpose-built and award-winning Heelis in Swindon – which remains one of Europe’s most environmentally-friendly office buildings.

She also led a series of financial reforms that took the Trust from a vulnerable financial position to one of security to meet the recession in 2008.  The Trust now spends over £100 million a year on conservation work.

Over this period:

  • Membership has grown from 2.7 million in 2001 to more than four million in 2011.
  • Visitor numbers to the Trust’s 300 properties reached 19 million from 10 million a decade ago. 
  • Volunteer numbers have also doubled, with more than 67,000 people giving their time to special places last year. 

As a geographer and walker with a passionate interest in landscape, she has systematically added to the 617,000 acres of countryside under the Trust’s care. Most recently, this included the acquisition of the 617-acre Llyndy Isaf estate near Snowdon after a public appeal raised £1 million in seven months from 20,000 donors.

Property acquisitions over the last 11 years have included the vast Victorian Gothic Tyntesfield and its estate near Bristol, Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, the ‘back-to-back’ terraced houses in Birmingham, John Lennon’s boyhood home in Liverpool and the quirky home of Kenyan-born poet Khadambi Asalache in Wandsworth. 

These acquisitions have been part of a concerted focus on social and community relevance for the Trust, recently underlined by the long-term lease taken out on Tredegar House in South East Wales.

During her time as Director-General, Fiona has championed the importance of access to the outdoors and nature for people’s wellbeing and promoted local and seasonal food with a drive to create 1,000 new allotments on National Trust land. 

In 2012 she launched the Trust’s Natural Childhood report and ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ campaign, which aim to reconnect children with nature and the outdoors. This echoes the vision of the Trust’s founders, in particular the Victorian social campaigner Octavia Hill, the centenary of whose death is marked this year.

While maintaining the Trust’s strict party-political neutrality, Fiona has also championed its conservation principles, most recently leading the charge against proposed changes to the planning framework which, she warned, would bias planning towards excessive building in the countryside. 

Her decision to step down as National Trust Director-General to become Master of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, was announced on Tuesday 6 March 2012.

Next steps

Fiona will become the first female Master in EmmanuelCollege’s history in the autumn of 2013, in succession to Lord Wilson of Dinton.

She became a Non-executive Director of the BBC on 1 January 2012, and was confirmed as the next Senior Independent Director on the broadcaster’s Executive Board on 18 September 2012.  She was also appointed a Non-executive Director on the Board of Wessex Water on 3 August 2012, and will Chair the company’s sustainability panel.

Fiona plans to use the interval between leaving and moving to Cambridge in September 2013 to write a book about her years at the Trust.

Other information

Appearing on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in April 2002, Fiona’s choice of music was:

  • the Mingulay Boat Song, performed by Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor;
  • the Agnus Dei from Fauré’s Requiem;
  • Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major;
  • Mendelssohn’s Octet;
  • Robert Speaight reading from Wordsworth’s Lines composed above Tintern Abbey;
  • The Salutation from Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis;
  • Maria Tipo playing the Adagio from Bach/Busoni’s Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major; and
  • Oh! Hang at open doors the net from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes.

 If she could take just one record it would be the Finzi; her book was The Making of the English Landscape by W G Hoskins and her luxury a full set of Ordnance Survey maps of the British Isles.

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 720 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: