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Hey National Trust, could that be a fox? 

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How embarrassing if it was – when this year they aren’t allowing a vote to reverse last year’s PR blunder of continuing to allow trail hunting on their land.

Plus, just this week the RSPCA has called for animal welfare to be taught in schools so when children like those in the picture are adult National Trust members they’ll vote against trail hunting in disgust in their thousands. Public sentiment is moving in one direction inexorably so why not announce at this year’s meeting that you got it completely wrong and you’re banning it?


[And on that subject: is there anyone inside the National Trust who still believes the short tunnel at Stonehenge should be supported? We sincerely doubt it. What a strange, strained atmosphere it will be at the meeting on Saturday! Unless of course the Trust suddenly does the right thing on both fronts].


 

The abiding message of the 30th Anniversary Conference is that the whole Stonehenge landscape is very special. So logically you’d think everyone would want to keep it from harm. But no. “Desecration by short tunnel” must still be considered acceptable for no-one said otherwise and Tom Holland’s 2 minute 27 second video saying otherwise couldn’t be shown as the programme was “too full”!  

It all makes zero sense. But perhaps most puzzling of all is the attitude of the National Trust. By what mechanism has “Preserving special places for everyone, for ever” become “we support what the Government wants”?  We think we may have found the answer buried in an article in The Independent back in 2003 :

It is the largest conservation group in Europe and the third-biggest landowner in the country. But, a senior official admits on screen, it does not know exactly what it is meant to be doing. What disturbs about The National Trust is not its concern with fine buildings and natural landscape but its inconsistencies and distortions and its clod-hopping, bureaucratic megalomania in dealing with them. Tyntesfield must be frozen archaeologically, but Lennon can be imagined. Cliveden can be developed, but Orford Ness must remain a desert.”

And the Stonehenge WHS must be valiantly defended. Or not. Depending on which decade the question arises.

 

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (9 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Once again it comes from the National Trust, which says, (in response to its own question, about whether there any other options rather than building a tunnel):
“Other options within the WHS, such as a surface dual carriageway, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments.  They would also do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.”

Yet the Trust  is supporting a short tunnel, which itself involves a long stretch of “surface dual carriageway“, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments” and would “do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.

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[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (7 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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7th-moggy.

Let’s be clear. The Trust is supporting a short tunnel, and that entails building massive new roads inside the World Heritage Site. So when it says “a tunnel would improve the setting” it’s asserting that the setting is only a subset of the WHS and the rest of the protected area is less precious and more expendable.

It’s a crazy, unsupported claim, another yowling moggy, but this time with horrible echoes – for an elastic setting, a setting of convenience, unilaterally declared to facilitate destruction, was Tarmac PLC’s strategy for claiming a moral right to annihilate the pre-historic landscape surrounding Thornborough Henges. But Tarmac PLC is a mean-minded, ruthless profit machine so can be forgiven, or at least understood whereas The National Trust is a conservation charity which is supposed to protect special places “for ever, for everyone” so can’t be.

One wonders whether members and employees of the National Trust are content for it to be talking like a gravel extraction company?

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[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (5 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Last month we questioned why Historic England had invited lots of prominent archaeologists to discuss “developments in conservation” (see here). To associate them with the idea conservation has changed and driving new roads over the World Heritage Site is now valid? Perhaps, for the word was then dropped and they’ll now be talking instead about “research and the potential for further discoveries” (see here).


But it’s not just archaeologists being manoeuvered. ICOMOS has been wrongly characterised as pro-short tunnel (see here) and the public are being as well (see here). Historic England’s guidelines have been unilaterally changed to say destruction is OK if there are “important planning justifications” (see here). More recently English Heritage seems intent on misleading the public by offering free balloon flights (see here) “to get a sense of how the removal of the A303 from the landscape would transform the World Heritage Site” but not mentioning it would involve cutting massive new roads over another part of the site (the elephant in the landscape as Stonehenge Alliance calls it). We suspect doing that offends every conservation instinct of EH personnel but it’s up to them to deny it.


You may well feel 5 yowling moggies are now out of the bag, each one designed to further the Government’s wishes. Will there be more? Probably, since the plain truth is that massive new roads inside the WHS cannot be justified without further disreputable tactics by Britain’s main conservation bodies. Future historians may view this as a shameful era.

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[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

As everyone knows, The National Trust is part of the short tunnel lobby, the group calling for massively damaging new roads within the World Heritage Site. To this end it has suddenly deployed what looks to be the mother of all dirty tricks. It has invited people to fill in aStonehenge landscape Spirit of Place survey”. Why? And why now?

Well mostly the questions are bland and meaningless, but Question 2 isn’t: “Is there any aspect of the Stonehenge landscape atmosphere or ‘feel’ that we should be particularly careful to preserve?The proper answer is “all of it – the World Heritage Convention doesn’t authorise cherry picking” but the agenda, blatantly, is to get people to innocently pick a favourite, which of course will be the stones, and to then announce in a big press release that the public wants the stone circle’s atmosphere to be preserved over and above the other parts of the World Heritage Site. That would fit in with the Trust’s stance – building massive new roads in part of the WHS is justified if it enhances the atmosphere round the stones.

So it gives every appearance of an attempt to harvest well-meaning people’s votes and use them in a way they didn’t authorise by claiming that since most people put preserving the atmosphere round the circle at the top of their priorities they therefore support the wrecking of other parts of the WHS. If that was the intention it has blown up in their faces and dealt yet another massive blow to the Trust’s reputation.

The Government says a 1.8 mile tunnel is all they can afford at Stonehenge. Conservation bodies English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust have said that would be OK and they’ll support it, even though a mile of massive approach roads will have to be driven through the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site. Logic suggests they CANNOT be right to do so but now there’s something happening to suggest that their stance is not only wrong but foolish. Britain is talking about building an 18 mile long road tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield –  that’s ten times longer than at Stonehenge!

Pennine tunnel

Someone in the Government is telling porkies about what can be comfortably offered at Stonehenge. By the same token, supporting the short tunnel there on the basis that’s all that can be afforded is going along with – and aiding – a falsehood.

And here’s a funny thing: the latest rumour is that Brexit may mean major projects including Stonehenge are cancelled. If it happens it will put English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust in a ticklish spot. Will they express regret about it, which will be ludicrous or will they welcome it, which will indicate their existing stance is ludicrous? We’ll see. They may yet come to ruefully reflect that supporting the Government is riskier than supporting what’s right – since the former may change whereas the latter never will.

Visited Avebury yesterday. Concocted a riddle:

Q: How do you stop 6 people climbing onto the stones in a ten minute period?
A: By putting up signs asking them not to – that are bigger than 1.25 square inches!

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We know the National Trust aren’t big on listening (they’ve ignored us on this matter repeatedly, going back to 2010) but we thought we’d mention it anyway. Yesterday there were some really small children on top of one tall stone, which leads us to a second riddle:

Q:  If a child fell down and broke a leg would NT’s sign stand up in court?
A:  ????

Many people opposed to parking charges and sobriety at Stonehenge have said they’ll go to Avebury instead. This seems to have prompted the National Trust to take action:A new plan has been drawn up by the Trust, which owns the stone circle in the Wiltshire village, to clamp down on the growing numbers of people staying outside the village and blocking the Ridgeway, which runs along the hillside just to the east of the village. The crackdown will also see more enforcement of tighter new parking restrictions.”

However, as at Stonehenge the real motivation seems to be less about parking than an attempt to limit numbers and improve behaviour – “to curb the excesses of the revellers who gather there”, to make solstice “a more peaceful occasion” ….. “safe for everyone and respectful of the World Heritage Site”…. “We want the Solstice at Avebury to continue to be known for being a peaceful, respectful occasion which all those who care most about the henge and the village would want it to be”. To this end, “As part of the plan, the Police and Wiltshire Council will increase patrols on the Ridgeway – a byway east of Avebury where the number and behaviour of people gathering during Solstice has become a problem.”

No doubt the Trust will get a lot of stick (and Heaven knows, there isn’t a stick big enough on some occasions!) but it would be nice if the complainants at both Avebury and Stonehenge recognised that there IS a behaviour problem that needs addressing.

Surely not? Well yes, it seems so. For after years of defending Stonehenge (“Don’t sell Stonehenge short”) the Trust has stabbed the World Heritage Site in the back by coming out in support of a short tunnel. The Government has admitted the u-turn has been pivotal so if the tunnel goes ahead the Trust’s finger prints will be on it forever, and they know it.

It’s the knowing which connects them to Shropshire Council. The latter have worked tirelessly to allow the land around Oswestry hillfort to be built on while knowing they shouldn’t. How do we know they know? Well, just last week their barrister Sarah Clover told a public enquiry (in Oswestry, ironically) that building 68 houses over in Ellesmere would constitute harm to the open countryside”. So both organisations know they’re on the wrong side of right.

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The National Trust's oak leaves together with one of the loggerheads from Shropshire Council's coat of arms. [Loggerhead: original meaning “a blockhead”, as in Shakespeare: “"Ah you whoreson logger-head, you were borne to doe me shame."]

The Trust’s oak leaves with one of Shropshire Council’s “loggerheads” peeping through. [Loggerhead: original meaning “a blockhead”, as in Shakespeare: “Ah you whoreson logger-head, you were borne to doe me shame.“]

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You can oppose the National Trust’s assault on heritage here  and Shropshire Council’s here.

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BTW, here’s what Private Eye thinks of the Dismal Undemocratic Repugnate of Shropshireland:

private eye

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Nicely put. Maybe they’ll do a job on the Trust too. Not only is it supporting heritage damage at Stonehenge it has also just let a previously expelled rule-breaking hunt back on it’s land on Exmoor. Tally ho! The Dismal Undemocratic Repugnate of Trustland – preserving the land in it’s care for ever, for everyone. Even cruel sods.

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