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Press release

National Trust's asks for the new government

Hilary McGrady in a green jacket
Director General Hilary McGrady | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Our priority asks for the new government after the General Election held on Thursday, 4th July 2024.

Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust said: “As we welcome this new government into power, we want to see it prioritise four key areas to tackle some of the most significant issues this country is facing.

“Firstly, the UK remains one of the most nature depleted countries on earth. By addressing, prioritising and accelerating action to reverse the nature crisis, the government can also address issues like river pollution, food security, and climate change.

“This has to involve more support to farmers so they play a full part in helping nature and restoring the health of our rivers; ensuring 30% of our land and seas are well managed and protected for nature by 2030; and investing in large scale, nature-based solutions like peatland recovery, which will also help tackle climate change.

“Having a plan to protect people and places from the growing impacts of climate change is also vital. Alongside net zero, this will require every government department to build climate resilience into all government policy and decision-making.

“Secondly, we know green space can help both our physical and mental wellbeing. With most of the UK’s population living in urban areas, now is the time to invest in creating more good quality green space within a maximum 15-minute walk of people’s homes. This will improve the standard of life for millions, and yield billions of pounds in health benefits.

“We want the next government to embrace this challenge – to work with local authorities to transform the face of our urban landscapes with significant investment and a clear plan to bring nature back to our doorsteps, making our cities and towns better for everyone.

“Thirdly, the new government must also protect local cultural heritage and museums, which are vital sources of civic pride, education and wellbeing, and which contribute hugely to local economies. There is a risk that the cost-of-living crisis and cuts to local authority funding will lead to the loss of museums, buildings and historic sites. This would deprive millions of people access to the UK’s cultural past and present.

“Our rich heritage is one of our nation’s greatest assets and should be at the heart of civic renewal.

“And finally, planning. We recognise that generating growth is at the heart of the new government’s economic ambition. We also recognise the urgent need for new homes, regeneration and the need for energy security. This growth shouldn’t come at the cost of our natural and historic environment, but instead enhance these national assets.

“The quality of our cities, towns and countryside matters to people. We want to see more investment into our planning system to boost skills and capacity within local planning authorities, and we are keen to work with the new government to get the balance right: to seek multiple benefits from new infrastructure, safeguard and restore nature, protect and make the most of our heritage and create places people can be proud of, giving them hope for the future.

“We also recognise and support a bigger role for renewable energy solutions of the right scale and in the right places to help tackle climate change; to help reduce emissions and to meet our country’s net zero target.

“There is no escaping the multiple challenges this new team of ministers faces. But we are at a crunch point. The next five years are pivotal for our relationship with this planet. Now is the time for swift and decisive action – to ensure generations for years to come can enjoy the nature, beauty and history of this great country.”