National Trust reveals vision for HS2 around Aylesbury

Proposals for an improved design for HS2 around Aylesbury, if it goes ahead, have been revealed by the National Trust.

Whilst being neutral over the principle of HS2, the National Trust opposes the specific proposed route in the Aylesbury area and through the Chilterns AONB.

This is because of its landscape and other impacts, especially on Hartwell House, where it would require the acquisition of the Trust’s land.

The plans revealed today show how the impact on hundreds of people’s lives and the special places they care about could be reduced if HS2 Ltd plans for mitigation on a big enough scale.

This would include acquiring additional land either side of the railway line to give room for the necessary landscaping and other measures, such as creating a 600m long ‘land bridge’ for the route as it crosses through the Hartwell House estate and next to Fairford Leys, where many local people will be heavily affected by the railway.

This would involve building the land up on either side of the line, then placing a lid on top, with vegetation and tree planting covering it. Wide, landscaped embankments which would screen trains and conceal noise barriers and security fencing also feature.

A range of specialist consultants, including experts in rail engineering, landscape character, landscape architecture, noise and hydrology have been brought in by the National Trust to advise on the best possible mitigation over an 8km stretch of the line from Stoke Mandeville, around Aylesbury and up to Waddesdon.

Since the route for HS2 was published in January this year, the Trust has been talking to local authorities, parish councils, landowners, other charities and organisations, as well as HS2 Ltd, aiming for proposals which take into account the views of as many people as possible who are affected by the line.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation for the National Trust, said: “Although HS2 is still not a foregone conclusion, and we object to the route chosen, in case it does go ahead it’s sensible for us to negotiate for the best scheme which minimises its impact for as many people as possible and on the special places they care about.

“We hope our proposals, which draw on our practical experience elsewhere, raise expectations of what could be achieved.

“There is still a lot of detail to work up. This would have to be done with HS2 Ltd, the community, local authorities and landowners and we believe a collaborative approach here will deliver the best scheme if HS2 does go ahead.

“We hope that HS2 Ltd and the Government will adopt this scheme, however we have also been clear that if this is not the case we would be prepared to petition Parliament in order to try and get the scheme included in the necessary legislation.”

The current proposed route of HS2 will pass directly through the Hartwell House estate which has an international history and significance stretching back almost a thousand years to the reign of Edward the Confessor.

It also passes within view of Coombe Hill in the Chilterns; through the Waddesdon Estate which has a Victorian garden thought to be one of best in Britain; and close to Claydon House, once home to Florence Nightingale.

The scheme has already received backing from a number of local groups.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust hires Kids’ Council

The National Trust has announced that, following a recruitment drive over the summer holidays, a group of ten youngsters, aged between seven and 11 from across the country, have been recruited by the charity for its Kid’s Council. The children will help the charity to evolve its ’50 Things To Do Before You‘re 11¾’ campaign and provide advice on how National Trust places can spark more children’s interest in nature and the outdoors.

The new Kids’ Council held its inaugural meeting at Dyrham Park near Bath and jumped into their roles with gusto. Having all tackled the ’50 Things’ list, the children are passionate about wildlife and outside activities and brimming with ideas to make the National Trust more engaging for youngsters.

Their first proposal to create a mud slide was put into practise with the help of a large hillside and Rob Holden, Head Ranger at Dyrham Park. Installing rope swings at National Trust places and creating a country-wide nature trail were other ideas discussed by the young councillors

The nationwide search for the youngsters opened in August and attracted hundreds of applications from across the UK. The National Trust judges were looking for imaginative and enthusiastic candidates who showed a real passion for the outdoors. The response from the nation’s children both inspired and delighted the judging panel with the applicants sending in photos, drawing pictures and even creating treasure maps.

Some of the more weird and wonderful suggestions that came up in some of the applications included meerkats at National Trust properties, barefoot nature walks and going inside a large rabbit hole to “see what it’s like being a rabbit”.

The successful applicants forming the new Kids’ Council are:

– Jessica Swales, aged 8 from North Yorkshire
– Max Hodgson, aged 8 from West Midlands
– Francesca Carrannante, aged 8 from London
– Kai Bickley, aged 7 from West Midlands
– Kit Le Froy, aged 8 from Cornwall
– Leif Wilson-Palmer, aged 8 from Gloucestershire
– Harry Wilson, aged 10 from Bristol
– Mia McDade, aged 8 from Stockport
– Sophia Tarling, aged 8 from Norwich
– Iona Howells, aged 11 from Kent

The members of the Kids’ Council and their families will be able to visit all National Trust places throughout the year to gain a true and deep understanding of what the National Trust has to offer. The children will report to the Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature Programme board at the National Trust, and will share their recommendations at four meetings across the year.

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, commented: “The applicants were imaginative, adventurous and exciting and we cannot wait to hear their views and start bringing their recommendations to life. The sheer number of applications shows that the children of Britain do want to get outdoors, have fun and connect with nature and our mission is to make this as accessible to all children as possible.”

Iona Howells, aged 11 from the Kids’ Council, said: “I am really proud to be part of the Kids’ Council. I want to make other children see that being outdoors can be fun and the National Trust has some great places where you can have heaps of fun – I hate sitting still inside so it is great to be part of getting other kids to play outside.”

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National Trust Holiday Cottages wins British Travel Award

National Trust Holiday Cottages has been named in the British Travel Awards 2012 as the winner of Best UK Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company. The announcement was made at a glamorous Gala Awards Dinner held at Battersea Evolution in London, attended by more than a thousand travel industry people.

National Trust Holiday Cottages have been operating as a holiday cottage business for over 50 years with some cottages dating back to at least the 15th century. Today, there are nearly 400 self catering cottages all with a unique style and character set in outstanding locations across the UK with all profits from bookings going directly back in to the National Trust’s conservation work.

Marianne Wanstall (Head of Holidays) said: “It is fabulous to be recognised in such high profile awards which are voted for by consumers and is a massive achievement for us and our unique product.

“The award is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of everyone at National Trust holiday cottages, from our contact centre team who deal directly with customers to the individuals who look after preparing and operating our portfolio of cottages across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

British Travel Awards’ chief executive Lorraine Barnes Burton said: “This year more than one million votes were cast by consumers to determine the winners of the coveted British Travel Awards. The Awards were created to reward travel companies, with the winning accolade being the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who really is the best in the business of travel for the UK consumer. National Trust Holiday Cottages is to be congratulated on their achievement.”

Companies were nominated by the public before being voted for by the British consumer, including readers of News International publications – The Times, Sunday Times, the Sun and the Sunday Sun – listeners of Global Radio stations, including LBC and readers of the British Travel Awards magazine, ‘Check-In’. The voting process and results are overseen, scrutinized and audited by Deloitte LLP.

In 2012 more than one million votes were cast in The British Travel Awards making it the largest awards programme in the UK. The BTAs were created to reward the best companies in travel and are recognised by consumers and travel professionals throughout the UK. With categories spanning 75 types of holiday experience – transport, destination, cruise, customer service, holiday extras, and accommodation – The British Travel Awards is quite simply the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who really is the best in the business.

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Nation rallies to safeguard iconic White Cliffs of Dover

A £1.2 million appeal launched by the National Trust in the summer to raise funds to acquire the iconic stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover coastline has reached its target in just 133 days, raising an average of £9,000 per day.

The Trust needed the money to buy a 0.8 mile stretch of this world-famous and much-loved piece of the Kent coastline overlooking the port.

It completes the missing link of coastline under National Trust care, uniting a stretch of more than 7km (nearly 5 miles) between the Trust’s visitor centre and South Foreland Lighthouse.

More than 16,000 people and organisations* have supported the White Cliffs of Dover appeal which was launched in June 2012 with an average donation of £40.21 (including Gift Aid) from members of the public.

Hundreds of messages of support were posted on a virtual White Cliffs of Dover on the charity’s website**.

Donations from supporters included a significant contribution from the Dover Harbour Board, which helped the Trust to reach its target earlier than had been anticipated, and support from the Regatta Foundation, Royal Oak Foundation and 16 National Trust supporter groups.

The fundraising drive was given a boost in July when a number of household names including Dame Vera Lynn, Dame Judi Dench and the soul singing sensation and Dover-born Joss Stone gave their support.

Writer and philosopher Julian Baggini spent a week in August at the White Cliffs in Dover looking into how they have come to symbolise what they mean for the UK’s national identity***.

Fiona Reynolds, who is in her final week as Director-General at the National Trust, said: “Thanks to the generosity and support of thousands of people we’ve reached our target nearly two months early.

“The Trust will now look to enhance the quality of access to this new land and build on some of the fantastic nature conservation work that has been carried out by the team on the ground.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history.

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War.

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only pair of breeding ravens in Kent and peregrine falcons.

Alison Burnett, a volunteer on the White Cliffs of Dover team, added: “There has been a real buzz around the appeal with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add the missing piece of the White Cliffs so that they are in the care of the National Trust.”

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

Notes to editors:
* The total number of people and organisations that donated to the White Cliffs of Dover appeal is 16,570.
** Examples of the messages of support and messages about why the White Cliffs of Dover matter can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal
** ‘A Home on the Rock’ by Julian Baggini was published in October and can be read on the blog that ran during his residency – whitecliffsofdoverwriter.wordpress.com

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