The National Trust’s position on party politics

The National Trust is a non-political, independent charity which exists to look after some of the country’s most treasured countryside for the benefit of the nation. It does not take a party political position on planning or any other issue.

Click here to read our latest views on the current planning system.


A greener future – letter to the Daily Telegraph

Ten leading environmental and conservation NGO CEO’s signed the below letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph today. This letter is about putting the Greener Britain agenda on that of all of the main political parties in the run up to the 2015 General Election.


Working together, the leading organisations from the environment and conservation sector have jointly developed seven goals for our next government that would have a profoundly positive impact on our country and the way we live.

From making an ambitious 2015 global climate change deal a key foreign policy priority to protecting vast areas of our oceans, both near and far from home; from an ambitious plan for nature’s recovery to making the energy efficiency of our homes an infrastructure priority; these and our other ideas are an exciting programme for the future.

Environmental policy making has been challenging in the last few years and the biggest challenge to achieving a greener Britain has been the hesitant approach of our political leaders. Some might feel that government can no longer tackle our biggest environmental problems; that we should leave international leadership to someone else; that our communities have become less interested in the nature around them and the quality of the green spaces they use.

We disagree. We know individuals and organisations with ambition and purpose have changed the world for the better, and that it will happen again. We also believe our political leaders can help us achieve it. It’s not certain that we will secure a global agreement to slow climate change next year in Paris. But a good agreement is more likely in 2015 than it has been for many years. It’s not certain that we will reverse the decline in British wildlife and countryside, but we are a country of nature-lovers, many millions of people are members and supporters of our organisations, and there is no shortage of ideas about how to ensure nature’s recovery.

We offer our political parties these ideas as they develop their general election manifestos, as a recipe for a greener, fairer, better Britain.

Yours faithfully,

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, CPRE
Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, RSPB
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
David Baldock, Executive Director, IEEP
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK
Helen Ghosh, Director General, National Trust
Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Matthew Spencer, Director, Green Alliance
Stephen Joseph, Executive Director, CBT
Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth

The National Trust Commonwealth of Natural and Cultural Heritage?

Common values for Commonwealth Day

Unless you have a particular interest in legacy international organisations or are directly employed by the Foreign Office, chances are that you don’t know what today is. For the past 37 years the second Monday in March has been Commonwealth day to 30% of the world’s population– the percentage of these people conscious of this fact is another question. While it has a certain official status, Commonwealth Day is not a public holiday in most Commonwealth countries and there is little public awareness of it.

As another hangover of the long defunct British Empire the Commonwealth of Nations has been a somewhat underplayed and undervalued organisation- lacking in meaning, purpose and direction. However much of that is to change if politics can be believed:

“For the first time in the Commonwealth’s 64-year history, all of the Heads of Government belonging to the organisation have agreed to adopt a Commonwealth Charter. This means that the Commonwealth now has a single document which sets out basic values that the people of the Commonwealth believe in and which they expect their governments to support and protect.”

The Royal Commonwealth Society

Queen at CHOGM 2011 (C) Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth- just another international “talking shop”?

Britain’s relationship with the world has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, however due to historical influences Britain still has a substantial legacy and responsibility to many worldly nations. In much the same way the National Trust since its founding in 1895 has inspired the birth of a wealth of directly modelled ‘national trusts’ throughout the world, so too do the NT’s responsibilities exceed lines drawn on a map. Being one of the oldest and largest of these trusts the National Trust has a duty to encourage co-operation and take leadership to forward matters of international importance, from universal policy to issues of heritage conservation and climate change. The National Trust is often used as a source of advice and direction for these smaller world wide trusts; due to this a need was seen to create a supranational platform through which to provide professional advice and coordination between the trusts- INTO.

Another important but relatively unknown transnational organisation is the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO). Although established recently in 2007, the current iteration is a budding growth from roots put down in the International Conference of National Trusts (ICNTs) since 1978. INTO is a worldwide organisation created to bring together and co-ordinate the many similar non-governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned with shared commitments in protecting natural and built heritage.

INTO Logo“The overarching mission of INTO is to promote the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world.”

Simon Molesworth, Chairman of the Executive Committee, INTO

The National Trust is a founding member of INTO and hosts the Secretariat in our London office at Grosvenor Gardens, where a number of our staff share roles between the two NGOs. INTO’s birth was inspired by an obvious need to create a dedicated international platform for the national trusts. It’s no coincidence that the majority of INTO ‘member trusts’ worldwide are from countries also belonging to the Commonwealth.

Another interesting aspect of this integration is the venerable National Trust Membership. Purchase one adult NT membership at £55.50 on your visit to Stourhead in Wiltshire and you can gain further free entry to 1000’s of important cultural and natural sites across the world; from Fort Gomo Kadzamu in Zimbabwe and the Stuart Town Gaol in Australia to viewing the Sooke Potholes in Canada. Surely no other organisation can offer such a smorgasbord of entry to worldwide cultural treats, combined with political clout and influence with just one membership card? Perhaps the Commonwealth can learn a thing or two from the National Trust about worldwide integration and economic value!

The next ICNT- the 15th International Conference of National Trusts will take place in Entebbe, Uganda, from September 30th 2013 to October 4th 2013. Like Commonwealth Day this is a chance to celebrate the great diversity within most of the English speaking world- coupled with great unity through common aims and common values for the benefit of mankind.

  • Alec James has worked in the National Trust for the past 5 years in various Public Relations and Communication roles throughout the South West and Central Office. In his current role in the National Press Office he works largely in environmental, wildlife and government planning press work.