Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



  (a) The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty was founded in 1895 as an independent charity to hold and manage in perpetuity for the benefit of the nation countryside and historic buildings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust fulfils its statutory responsibilities, as laid down in the National Trust Acts, through ownership and direct management and its prime concern is therefore the conservation and management of the properties in its care.

  (b) As a consequence, the Trust is the largest private landowner in the United Kingdom owning an estate of 244,500 hectares and a further 27,000 hectares under covenant in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its rural interests are underlined by the 56 villages which the Trust wholly or partly owns. Under the Enterprise Neptune scheme, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Trust's ownership of unspoilt coastline has risen to 520 miles with a further 54 miles protected by covenant. The Trust is the largest conservation organisation in Europe, supported by 2.6 million members. The majority of its land is held inalienably.

  (c) The Trust believes that its ability to transfer this natural and historic resource, in good order, across the generations fulfils a prime test of the sustainability of the economic, social and environmental systems involved. This contributes qualitatively to the overall goal of sustainable development which the Trust interprets as a need for society to improve its well-being rather than to seek material accumulation. In undertaking this role, the Trust has regard to:

    —  the protection of its properties;

    —  the consideration of the wider landscape in which Trust properties are present; and

    —  the environment as a whole.

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