Tag Archives: countryside conservation

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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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

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust boost for Box Hill wildlife also benefits Olympic spectators

Rare wildlife has a better chance to thrive thanks to a scrub clearance at the National Trust’s Box Hill in Surrey.

The work also allows many more cycling fans to watch the Olympic Road Races in July, combining a sustainable Games with excellent sporting facilities.

The hill is home to many endangered species that only live on chalk grassland such as small blue butterflies and man orchids. These species are protected nationally and internationally which is why Box Hill is a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest,

A detailed wildlife survey funded by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) proved the Trust could safely remove some areas of scrub, creating more grassland where these species can flourish.

The National Trust, LOCOG and the government’s wildlife and landscape advisers, Natural England, have worked together to create a balance between protecting wildlife and promoting enjoyment of top level international sport.

It is hoped the work will make room for up to 15,000 spectators to watch the world’s best cyclists tackle one of the most exciting sections of the Olympic race route – Box Hill’s Zig-Zag road – on July 28 and 29.

Andy Wright, the National Trust Countryside Manager for Box Hill said: “It’s great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting.

“Since traditional farming ceased in the 1930s, woodland has been encroaching onto the grassland at Box Hill and we’ve been battling to keep it back.

“The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and they have really helped us understand the best way to manage the habitat for the long term.

“The scrub alongside the road has very few species living in it so after we removed it, it didn’t matter if people walked in those areas.

“Gradually, over the years that land will turn back into chalk grassland which is a much richer habitat – supporting around 60 to 100 species of plants, animals and insects per square metre.”

As well as being a valuable area for wildlife, the steep and winding Box Hill loop is considered to be one of the most challenging stages of the Olympic Cycling Road Race.

Jim Smyllie, Natural England’s Executive Director for Delivery, said: “The cycling road races will be world class events in world class scenery and the restoration work at Box Hill will help ensure they leave a living legacy.”

The scrub clearance work began on January 30th and the Zig-Zag road was closed for a week to allow trees to be felled. Strips of land on both sides of the road were trimmed but occasional bridges of overhanging trees were left to allow dormice and other woodland creatures to cross.

Via EPR Network
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