I’ve just cancelled my National Trust membership and have signed up to the National Trust for Scotland.
Let me explain why and you might find that it would suit you too. Or maybe it wouldn’t.
The National Trust does quite a lot of good things but I’ve never felt very sympathetic to its philosophy. I certainly don’t think that the NT is a terrible organisation, in fact I think it is quite a good one, but, as I say, I’m a long way from feeling at home with it. And that makes me uncomfortable because my membership costs a fortune and I don’t recoup that value in savings most years so a lot of my money is, in essence, straight financial support for NT.
The recent membership vote over trail hunting went the way I didn’t want it to go – which is just tough really you might say – and that didn’t make me feel more relaxed about my financial support for NT.
And then last week NT unveiled their complex compromise on grouse shooting in the Dark Peak. Instead of having driven grouse shooting in lots of places, they are having driven grouse shooting in one place for another five years and walked up shooting and shooting over dogs on other bits of land.
I’m a nature conservationist and I aim to get driven grouse shooting banned as quickly as possible because it is underpinned by wildlife crime and depends on management that is environmentally damaging (sign here if you agree) so I was rather hoping that NT was going to send driven grouse shooting packing on its land. So I was disappointed by that decision too.
But the NT position is ‘We appreciate the importance of rural traditions as part of the spirit of many of the places we look after. We allow field sports to take place on our property where traditionally practised, provided they are within the law and compatible with our principal purposes of conservation and access.’.
Nature conservation does not need country sports based on killing animals to be successful – no-one can tell me that a bit of trail hunting or grouse shooting increase NT’s performance as a nature conservation body and so I just feel that NT is bending over backwards to retain fieldsports on its land when it doesn’t have to. Indeed, in clinging to the past, NT has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution and I don’t want to be paying for that.
What others do legally on their land is largely up to them, but the NT is spending my money in ways that make me uncomfortable and which are not necessary for the conservation work which I wish to support, so I think I’ll take my money back.
The NTS has a reciprocal arrangement that means that I have access to NT sites through my NTS membership – and NTS is cheaper so I’m saving money.
In addition some nice people at NTS sent me this information when I asked about fieldsports:
‘…the National Trust for Scotland has no specific policy on field sports, however I can give you the following information on our current management:
- Grouse – we manage part of our Mar Lodge Estate to provide walked-up grouse shooting. This is currently under review to ensure environmental impacts are minimised.
- Pheasant – we have no pheasant shooting at NTS properties.
- Red deer – at a number of our properties we cull deer to manage their impact on other aspects of natural heritage. Culling is always undertaken for conservation reasons, but we do accept paying clients to assist in this.
- Fox-hunting – we do not have traditional fox hunts at NTS properties. This includes trail hunting.’.
It seems to me that this is the balance sheet that I will experience:
- save money
- am not supporting NT when its positions make me uneasy
- am supporting NTS with whose positions I feel more in tune
- can still visit NT sites with my NTS membership
- don’t get to vote in NT elections etc (but it hasn’t done me much good so far)