22 comments on “Saving what for the nation?

  1. It means that the National Trust gets to disneyfy (sp?) it and cover it with childish interpretative notices and twee gift shops, rather than some private owner doing the same thing.

    Hard to see any benefit for the customer, really.

  2. Well, perhaps now we’ll see evidence of the better caretaker . . . the public or a private owner. Somehow I doubt it comes out even but we shall see.

  3. Tim Newman (#2) “pretty damned cheap”

    It’s only cheap because there’s very little you can do with it without the planners stopping you (or at least extracting a huge bung).

  4. The National Trust is a charity, not a government body. This is all jolly third-sector stuff, funded from subscriptions paid by grandparents and bequests by people who hate their relatives. It does its job extremely well.

  5. The ignorant tosspottery is just the DM’s spin on an unexceptionable story: the NT has bought a small parcel of land to add to one of its parks. There’s another splendidly stupid bit in that article, since one ofn the photos is captioned: “Precious landmark: A large chunk of the cliffs fell into the sea in March, highlighting how fragile they are in the face of coastal erosion”.

  6. dave, this bit is surely dumber: ‘More species can be found in a square metre of the chalk grassland than a tropical rainforest.’

    The NT appears to have bought all or part of the South Foreland Local Character Area, so presumably it’s going to have a lot of trouble with strangely dressed old men accosting visitors to tell them tall tales and make impertinent remarks.

  7. It’s only cheap because there’s very little you can do with it without the planners stopping you (or at least extracting a huge bung).

    You can lob howtizer shells at the French. Worth a million in my book. :)

  8. @Johnb

    They do have taxpayers money because donations are tax deductible and free of inheritance tax (IIRC).

    Not a significant amount I grant, but it is still tax avoidance and being spent largely on middle class pursuits.

  9. They’re saving it for the nation. No doubt this will involve scaffolding, gunk injection, a visitor centre to explain the technology…
    If not, it’s not saving it at all, is it?The cliffs are crumbling at about 2 feet per year and in a few thousand years won’t exist at all.

  10. Got some interesting background on this.

    It could be justified by a need to protect the eroding coastal path – when a public path falls off the cliff, does it vanish or move inland?

    They’ve been trying to buy it from the farmer for years.

    They’ve only bought a fairly narrow strip – I think it is only 50-100m wide.

    One clever farmer.

  11. Vinny Burgoo @ 8

    It’s just possible that a metre of chalk downland does contains more species than an equivalent area of rainforest floor. Downland turf is very species rich and the diversity of a rainforest lies more in the trees than the leaf litter.

  12. Thornavis, but that’s not what the Mail said.

    While I’m here, I might as well mention that Natural England’s July survey of the strip of SSSI clifftop bought by the NT said that the reason for classifying it as ‘unfavourable no change’ (=’not being conserved and will not reach favourable condition unless there are changes to the site management or external pressures’) was ‘Undergrazing’. So all you local characters out there, get yourselves down to Dover and start munching clifftop grass. You’ll be promoting (very) local biodiversity and possibly saving Kentish sheep from being conscripted for hazardous service.

  13. Matt (#14) said “One clever farmer”

    That would depend on whether the Trust’s strip is measured on solid land or from the edge.

  14. Vinny Burgoo

    Yes I know it’s not what the Mail said but we don’t expect the Mail or any other newspaper to get these things right, I was suggesting that’s what was meant, assuming the journalist had any knowledge of the subject at all that is.
    Whether this is a worthwhile purchase or not I don’t know but at least it’s doing what the NT was set up to do, conserve landscape. I can’t get agitated about it being a fake charity or using taxpayers money to pay for middle class interests. That’s a rather snobbish assumption to begin with, depends how you classify middle class as well, there’s plenty of working class people, myself included, avail themselves of the nearest piece of NT owned land to me – an Iron Age hill fort, it’s a very popular spot with all manner of people. Anyway as someone pointed out the other day, seeing as the middle class pay most of the tax why shouldn’t they get something back for it ?

  15. Thornavis, I don’t have any particular abhorrence of the NT (beyond the fact that it’s yet another overmighty ‘civil society’ organization; plus it charges a lot for parking and sometimes forgets to put up the ‘Closed’ sign outside its sooper-sooperly amateurish tea shops).

    I do wonder, though, whether they might have misled the people who paid so much for that thin strip of clifftop. (Nearly ten times the going rate for agricultural land.) From the NT’s already deleted campaign page: ‘Your support will not only allow us to save the White Cliffs for the nation but also manage this British icon to improve its value as a natural habitat, managed for biodiversity and open for access for visitors.’

    There was never going to be any development up there (except perhaps at the top of Fan Hole), there was already a public footpath and apparently the only way to improve the habitat’s ‘natural’ ecotasticality is to graze it. This would mean fencing off the cliff edge but in August the NT said this about its existing White Cliffs properties: ‘On our land at the White Cliffs, there are discreet warning signs at most gates and at approaches to the cliff edge. We do not have large signs or fencing all the way along the cliff edge because we also have to be careful to preserve the natural beauty of our places.’

    Perhaps ‘natural’ habitat will trump natural beauty and they’ll put up big chunky fences on the new land. (And a tea shop at the top of Fan Hole.)

    Or perhaps they won’t.

    I don’t really care, actually. It’s decades since I lived there. Let them do what they do. Enough bloviating for one day. (I’m nearly out of booze.)

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