Statement on senior membership price increases

The National Trust currently offers nearly one million senior members a heavily discounted price of 25% off our adult rates.

This discount is offered to senior members who have held either an individual or joint membership for at least five of the last ten years as a way of saying thank you for their long-term support.

That costs the Trust over £11m a year (in lost income) but we believe it’s right to reward our members’ loyalty in this way.

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Updated statement on the fire at Clandon Park

Clandon Park image

Image credit John Jones

 

Speaking from the site of the blaze, the National Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghosh, said:

“The fire is now out but the scale of the damage to the mansion has been devastating. The house is now essentially a shell, most of the roof, ceiling and floors have collapsed into the bottom of the building.

“There is perhaps one room that is relatively untouched but, other than that, the interior is extensively damaged. The external walls are still standing.

“It’s a terrible sight. We have saved some significant items but certainly not everything that we wanted to save.

“We have a very well-rehearsed plan to get key items out of houses but it’s still too early to say just how much we have been able to save.

“It will clearly take some time to assess the full scale of the damage and to then consider what the options are for the house.

“The most important thing is that no-one was injured and everyone was safely evacuated. Although I’m upset by what has happened, I also feel huge pride at the tremendous work of our staff and volunteers in dealing with this terrible event. The local team have had marvellous support from colleagues from neighbouring properties and specialists from across the Trust.

“We’ve also had a large number of messages of support from members and the public – which we truly appreciate.

“I would also like to thank the amazing efforts of the fire brigade. We’ll continue to work closely with them over the coming days.”

We’re asking our supporters not to visit Clandon Park at this time to offer help as the incident is still being managed on site, and a fire investigation is underway.

The National Trust’s response to Labour’s house-building proposals

We welcome that Sir Michael Lyons’ review does not propose a further shake up of national planning policies, and recognises that many of the problems with undersupply of housing lie with the market rather than failures of the planning system.

“We agree that the nation needs more homes, and will look carefully at proposals for housing growth areas and garden cities and suburbs. It is critical that we choose the right places to put new housing, and involve communities through the local planning process to get genuinely sustainable development.

“We hope that Labour focuses on Sir Michael’s proposals to support the plan-led system rather than policies to take planning powers away from local councils.”

National Trust responds to Government initiatives to help build more new homes on brownfield land

Ingrid Samuel, National Trust historic environment director, said:

“We have called for state investment to get difficult brownfield sites ready for development, and so we welcome moves in this direction from Government – and the clear recognition from the Chancellor of the need to protect valued countryside. There are many sites in urban areas, close to existing jobs and transport links which communities would like to develop ahead of countryside sites though their Local Plans, but developers currently deem them unviable due to additional costs.

“As with any development, care should be taken to ensure new homes on brownfield land respect local heritage and biodiversity, are well designed, with access to green space and good transport links, and that affordability needs are considered. The detail of any proposed changes will need to make sure that local communities, through the planning process, can ensure these needs are properly considered.”

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.

National Trust welcomes DEFRA’s plan for Catchment Based Approach in nation’s rivers

We welcome the announcement of the £1.6m funded Catchment Based Approach from DEFRA which recognises the need for us to work at a larger catchment scale and in partnership across government, conservation organisations and local communities. Managing our land and water carefully is vital not only to National Trust places which are dependent on the quality of the water environment for wildlife and people, but for wider landscapes and communities. The way that land and water is managed in one place can have a much wider impact elsewhere. Recognition of the need to work collaboratively to tackle the challenges of water pollution, flood risk and water availability for the benefit of all is a huge opportunity for freshwater conservation.

Stonethwaite Valley within Borrowdale

Stonethwaite Valley within Borrowdale

The National Trust has enshrined the principle of working at a catchment scale in ‘From Source to Sea’ which documents our approach in managing water as it flows through the catchment out to the coastal zone. With up to 43% of water in England and Wales draining through National Trust land we believe engaging at a larger scale is critical in delivering and influencing land and water management. We are already testing working at the catchment scale in places such as the Holnicote Estate where we are trialling practical land and water management measures to deliver positive outcomes from flood risk to habitat creation. We’re also involved in supporting community led catchment initiatives such as the Loweswater care programme where along with the West Cumbria Rivers Trust the National Trust is helping local community driven schemes to improve water quality. This is taking us in the right direction but the Catchment Based Approach could help to deliver on much wider scales to meet the ambition of River Basin Management Plans.

What is essential now in line with the Blueprint for Water response is that the detail surrounding the Catchment Based Approach be agreed and the delivery frameworks be put in place if this approach is to be fit for purpose and deliver truly collaborative partnership working. We would envisage the role of water companies as a critical part of this development.

National Trust calls for councils to be given more time to adopt local plans

New research suggesting that half (51 per cent) of councils in England will miss the deadline for adopting a local plan has prompted the National Trust to call for local authorities to be given more time to agree plans for their area.

When the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012, after a National Trust campaign to secure vital protections for land, local authorities were given 12 months to update and adopt their local plans to show where development should take place, for example to cope with predicted increases in population.[1]

However, new research by the National Trust and the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) suggests that over one quarter (26.8 per cent) England’s local planning authorities expect that it will take more than a year from now for their local plan to be adopted, just under one-fifth (17.5 per cent) within the next 6-12 months and 6.7 per cent after the deadline but within the next six months. [2]

Councils that fail to adopt a local plan by the end-of-March deadline will be subject to the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ in the NPPF.

This could mean an easy ‘yes’ for development proposals on the 55 per cent of England without national protection – that is land outside, for example, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or designated Green Belts. [3]

Without an extension to the deadline, communities the length and breadth of England could be at risk of unwanted speculative development on land that has not been identified for development, as developers seek to cash in on the planning loophole.

 “Speculative development is the polar opposite of good planning,”

said Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation at the National Trust.

 “The success of the National Planning Policy Framework depends entirely on local plans being adopted. This is why we suggested that councils should be given two years to adopt their plans. A perfect storm of council cuts, the loss of regional strategies and just 12 months to adopt new plans has been too much for many councils to bear.”

“Councils need more time to get their local plans in place to protect land from unwanted development and ensure communities get the developments they need, in the right places. Only in this way can development be genuinely sustainable.”

Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU Chief Executive, said:

“Planning is one of the most important but also one of the most contentious functions that local authorities perform. In a tough economic climate it’s really important to balance the role of development in driving growth with local needs and aspirations. There may be real tensions between the two. Local area plans provide a way of working through these tensions but it is not easy.”

 “It’s vital that we don’t put bureaucratic process ahead of the need for a real democratically founded local planning system. Local area plans that balance the need for growth with the needs of the community are worth waiting for.”

Malcolm Sharp, president of the Planning Officers Society, said a year’s transition period was not long enough to complete the local plan process.

“Planning authorities are being asked to do local plans, support neighbourhoods, put the community infrastructure levy in place and negotiate infrastructure delivery – it’s a big ask on them to keep all the balls in the air.”

Further research into the state of the planning system will be published by the National Trust and LGiU ahead of the anniversary of the NPPF at the end of March 2013.

For further information please contact Andrew McLaughlin in the National Trust press office on 07920 750 818.

Notes

[1] Local planning authorities must prepare a local plan which sets planning policies in a local authority area. These are very important when deciding planning applications. The process for producing a local plan should have fully involved everyone who has an interest in the document and they should have had the chance to comment. Local plans must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework.

[2] Concerned about the upcoming NPPF anniversary deadline, the National Trust commissioned the LGiU to survey local authorities on progress with their Local Plans, as well as the wider implications of the NPPF, the Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning.  The LGiU received responses from just under one quarter (22.5 per cent) of the 337 planning authorities producing Local Plans.  Of these, over four-fifths (82 per cent) were in the process of completing their Local Plan.  This represents over one-third (35 per cent) of the 175 planning authorities without formally adopted Local Plans.  The survey was conducted between Wednesday 20 February and Friday 1 March 2013.

[3] Figures from CPRE research.

[4] In a speech to the Policy Exchange on 10 January 2013, Planning Minister Nick Boles MP, also flagged the risks of speculative development if local authorities failed to adopt local area plans. He said: “Councils which do not produce credible plans to meet local housing need will find that the presumption in favour of sustainable development will trump local decisions. And they will have to explain to local residents why their failure to produce a robust local plan exposed their communities to speculative development in places where it is not welcome.” Full text of speech by Nick Boles.

 [5] In February 2013 Inside Housing magazine obtained exclusive details from the Planning Inspectorate of the 185 councils in England yet to adopt an updated local plan.