The National Trust’s Director-General Hilary McGrady has outlined three commitments that a future Government should commit to for the sake of heritage and nature, including the largest improvement in access to urban green space since the Victorian era.
McGrady outlined a three-point manifesto, which focussed on green commitments, the protection of heritage, and improved access for the public.
The three main calls for action are part of the National Trust’s Election Policy Platform, which outlines the seven priorities “which should be at the forefront of the political agenda during the upcoming general election.”
McGrady wrote on the Trust’s website: “The next general election will have a profound impact on all our futures. Nature and our climate are facing an emergency.
“The legal commitments to reach net zero by 2050 and reverse the decline of nature by 2030, require concerted action and we are looking for the policies to match.”
Protecting nature and heritage are the @nationaltrust’s founding principles. Today we launch our policy manifesto asks that we believe must be part of the next government to secure the future of nature and heritage for everyone.
— NT External Affairs (@NTExtAffairs) October 26, 2023
The manifesto calls for accelerated progress toward the renewal of nature, with more resources for nature watchdogs, and “nature friendly” farming. McGrady writes: “The sad truth is that the condition of our rivers is indicative of the health of all UK nature: abused and polluted, too long taken for granted.”
It also asks that the next governing party recognise the impact of climate change on the nations’ heritage, landscapes and natural environment. It cites coastal erosion, floods and extreme heat among the damaging factors.
Earlier this week, flooding saw Derby’s Museum of Making forced to close after extensive flooding, and damage which it predicts will cause a significant loss of income.
McGrady continued: “Following Storm Babet we saw severe levels of flooding at some of our places. Everything we care for, from our collections to the country houses, their gardens, and the surrounding landscape are being affected by climate change.”
Along with other organisations involved in the research, the Trust said it has identified the need for more than 200,000 workers to retrofit historic buildings to meet the UK’s net zero targets, more than double the current estimate.
The Trust is also calling for a legally binding target – that everyone should be able to access green space within a 15-minute walk from their home.
McGrady said: “We know the benefits of being in nature for people but there is unequal access to it. We’d like to see the largest improvement in access to urban green space since the Victorian era.
“We need long term strategy not short-term politics, and we know that there is huge public appetite to address these issues.”