The National Trust is fending off protests about comments made by its Director General, Dame Helen Ghosh, in today’s Times that the organisation was keeping an open mind on fracking but was unlikely to allow wind farms on its land.
Up to 3pm today, the Trust had sent more than 75 replies to tweets saying its policy on fracking hadn’t changed and was pointing people to a position statement agreed in the summer.
The National Trust press office also made a statement which said shale gas would distract attention from a shift to renewables. “Our position is a presumption against fracking on our land. It doesn’t mean that in time that won’t change – if the environmental and visual impacts are negligible and it is part of a strategy to move to a low carbon economy.”
But this hasn’t stopped complaints landing in the Trust’s Twitter stream. Marky Mark has torn up his NT membership card and cancelled his direct debit. Gullwing Photography wrote: “Fracking is irrefutably bad for the environment. Why does the NT not rule out fracking NT land? As a life member, worrying.”
Tweets also criticised the Trust for other policies, including its ban on foxing. Roger Helmer UKIP MEP and the party’s coming spokesman on industry and energy wrote: “National Trust are open to fracking”…Pity they are not open to fox hunting.”
Yesterday, when Dame Helen’s interview with The Times took place, the National Trust was lobbying parliament to promote a need for greater funding for threatened species, landscapes and heritage features.
Patrick Begg, the organisation’s Rural Enterprise Director, said in the press statement that accompanied the event: “Our Government needs to show real leadership in Europe and send a clear signal that environmental sustainability has to be put at the heart of farming in the UK.”
In a press release in February this year, Mr Begg was quoted as saying: “Building a renewable energy future for the special places we look after makes good business as well as environmental sense. Investing in renewables helps us reduce our costs, which means more of the money we raise can go into vital conservation work. It also means we’re cutting our damaging carbon emissions by burning fewer fossil fuels. This will be vital in helping us do our bit to reduce the impact of changing climate on these special places.”