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National Trust trusting in green dogma

2 May 2014

4:06 PM

2 May 2014

4:06 PM

Strange happenings at a place that many people think of as one of Britain’s National Treasures: the National Trust. As we point out in our leading article this week, the Trust and their director-general, Dame Helen Ghosh, seem to have done a 360 on fracking.

Last year, Dame Helen had an ‘open mind’ when it came to fracking. But in an interview with the Guardian this week, Dame Helen revealed that she has turned her back on shale. She explained that the decision was made because: ‘We don’t believe anyone understands the environmental impacts, and because we as far as possible would want to avoid anything that encourages the continued use of fossil fuels.’ On its website, the trust reinforces this viewpoint, writing that they have ‘presumption against’ shale ‘because natural gas is a fossil gas’. 


It’s not a straight ‘No’ to fracking, though; Dame Helen does go on to say that:

‘At some imaginary point in future, if all those [environmental] concerns were in some way met, it’s possible, but at the moment the answer would absolutely be no.’

But, you have to admit, it doesn’t sound as if she’s going to be changing her tune any time soon. It is slightly odd, though. Even the IPCC has accepted that ‘the shale gas revolution… can be very consistent with low-carbon development’, particularly as a ‘bridge’ energy source until someone can invent a productive form of green energy.

The whole point of the National Trust is, as our leader puts it, to ‘guard the aesthetic integrity of the landscapes it has bought’ or, as the National Trust put it, to ‘save our nation’s heritage and open spaces’. So it is at least encouraging, and logical, that the National Trust isn’t (yet) embracing the wind turbines which cover so much of this country. But it is slightly bizarre that the trust accepts solar panels, which, although closer to the ground, aren’t much more attractive than windfarms and produce electricity when we least need it, in mid-summer. It’s difficult to argue, even if you are Dame Helen Ghosh, that covering National Trust land in solar panels is the same as ‘saving open spaces’.

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Show comments
  • dsae

    Can you imagine the Speccie being un-PC on an issue of significance .
    Otomatik kapıotomatik kepenkورق و نمای کامپوزیت

  • lily jack

    No doubt..she is amazing..i am her fan

  • olivia mark

    Dame Helen, i am her big fan…she is the big supporter of
    women and i always love his work,what she did. i always listen her speeches
    where ever i go. Because i am working in fulham minicabs in fulham.

  • David

    Pity, because I was thinking of joining. Not so sure now…

  • Eyesee

    The biggest problem for me is that, if she is supposed to run this important institution on our behalf, she cannot be so careless about understanding stuff. The grand Dame has taken an ideology led stance (she must have, Global Warming isn’t real and Man made CO2 is not a significant greenhouse gas) and so she rules her decision making out as trustworthy. It would be better if we had someone who understood the nature of their role and if they want to wander into other fields, such as climate science, that they spend a few minutes finding out about the subject rather than spouting some Marxist ideology, that just currently appeals to them. As I keep saying, do exactly what the ‘greens’ don’t want you to; find out, research, debate.

    • Noel Darlow

      “Global Warming isn’t real and Man made CO2 is not a significant greenhouse gas”

      You need to read some books.

      • Eyesee

        That’s the thing, I do. Even in the Sixties it was known that CO2 was not a significant contributor. It’s why there hasn’t been any warming since 1997 and CO2 is still going up.

        • Noel Darlow

          I really do not understand why unqualified people feel entitled to make such outrageously unscientific statements. Global warming has not stopped.

          If you want to learn about the current state of climate science, start with the latest IPCC report. If you don’t want to learn about climate science you should refrain from voicing your ignorant opinions.

          • Major_Eyeswater

            Please can you explain to me why there has been no global warming since 1997 (RSS data) despite CO2 rising c.11% over that period?
            I’m all ears Noel.

            • Noel Darlow

              May I suggest the following algorithm:

              (1) Find good sources of information on climate science.

              (2) Read some.

              Not everyone is capable of learning. First you have to be genuinely open-minded and curious about the world. I’m afraid the algorithm doesn’t always work but it’s all we’ve got.

          • Eyesee

            I think what pushed me in the direction that temperatures haven’t risen since 1997 was the fact, openly stated by even greenies of the IPCC description, that temperatures haven’t risen. As for checking anti-capitalist propaganda first before making a statement, well, it is an answer to your ‘point’ in itself. I resist abuse though, that is best left with your side of the fence.

            • Noel Darlow

              Fair comment is not abuse. If you presume to talk disparagingly of Barcelona when you’ve never been to Spain, I don’t know what other word would be more appropriate.

              Dismissing the IPCC as “greenies” IS however mildly abusive (and rather ignorant, once again). You are not qualified to criticise a whole planet’s-worth of climate (and other) scientists whose work has contributed to the report.

              Global warming is a long-term statistical trend. By comparison, the amount of short-term variability is large and can easily obscure the signal. However, in the long-term, this short-term variability will cancel out and for this reason periods less than 35 years or so are not considered relevant. It’s like watching the water level on a harbour wall on a stormy day. From moment to moment it rises and falls by many feet because of waves. Hidden within that short-term variability is a slower, long-term tidal rise and fall.

              Claiming that 15 years or so of no warming (if that had indeed occurred: warming did not in fact stop) is significant to a long-term trend reveals a profound ignorance of the subject. That’s a real schoolboy howler of an error.

              It’s also interesting that you cherry-picked an unusually warm, record-breaking El Nino year to begin your period of “no warming”. That is extremely dishonest although perhaps you were not aware of it and this – like most criticism of climate science – is simply second-hand dishonesty parroted from an anti-scientific denier blog.

              Science is a gun fight with heavy calibre weapons. You showed up with a plastic sword. I’m sure you can do better but first you will have to open your mind and learn something about the subject.

              • Eyesee

                Ah, smoothing. Available to explain away an unpredicted pause, but not to be used elsewhere. Why 35 years? I was thinking 36 or maybe 82. The IPCC does seem to have a lot of problems with real scientists, in fields related to the study of climate, wishing to dissociate themselves from their doctored reports. Then there are the significant numbers of pure political activists and vested interest people authoring reports and changing output to suit the politicians. A study in 1966 concluded ‘against expectation’ that man made CO2 was just too little to affect climate. That is still the case. When I speak of the IPCC, I mean what I understand of it, what I have read, not that, as you seem to imply for yourself that you have read everything and on balance Global Warming, specifically caused by Man is happening. I was, smoothing the output. Why should we believe climate scientist Al Gore, for instance? Or the hockey stick that always gives the same result. If 35 years is significant, why delete the whole Mediaeval Warm Period as irrelevant? Why did it warm up after the frost fairs on the Thames, or in fact get cold in the first place. Lordy, don’t tell me some things are beyond our control! Don’t let the totalitarians hear you say that! Funny how controlling Global Warming only seems to require the destruction of Western economies to achieve its result. Which is? Delaying a slight rise by a few years. If it was happening at all, or we could stop it. Or needed to. Where are all the dead from CJD, bird flu? How under water are the Maldives, or haven’t we set a date for that yet? Maybe we have paid enough money to them for it not to happen? Run by me again why water vapour isn’t the main greenhouse gas.Why solar activity is insignificant in comparison to Man’s output of CO2. Why did several planets in the solar system warm at the same time as the Earth was? Let me guess….. something to do with President Bush and the cars he drives. (By the way, I totally accept what you say about short term variability and that it was well put).

  • mitate

    spouting about the beauty of wind turbines the moment she got her feet under the desk had members in total panic, imagining great white turbines sticking out the roofs of NT piles. much back-pedalling ensued, accompanied by a word from simon, one assumes, yet she’s at it again. greenies never know when to stop. the country is bankrupt, love. we need fracking to survive, and hopefully avert lighting those candles again.

  • cartimandua

    They are right about fracking. It competes with agriculture and farming (and people) for water. There are also disturbing studies showing farm animals end up poisoned near fracking well heads.
    It doesn’t matter if it turns out to be “true” here or not perception is all. We export to countries in the EU which have banned fracking. We cannot bury farming and ag to make short term bucks for energy companies. and that’s if the water companies say they are “happy”. Last time I looked they were not “happy” about it at all.

    Wind farms offshore however do make sense as they take the sting out of storms in a very useful way.

    • an ex-tory voter

      “Wind farms make sense because they take the sting out of hurricanes”

      Bull shot.
      The university of Delaware article you link to talks of a “hypothesis” that “enormous” wind farms “might” take the sting out of “hurricanes” specifically because hurricanes are a “different type” of wind storm.

      You present as a “fact” something which is only a “theory” and in any case relates “specifically” to hurricanes.

      • cartimandua

        Well we don’t want them onshore thanks and it makes sense to have them offshore.
        They “might” help with storms and with fish stocks.
        My point about perceived risk to food safety from fracking is unanswerable. We cannot control the perception of our export markets which have themselves banned fracking.

        • Frank

          I imagine that the stand-off with Vlad is making a lot of people in the EU Commission consider whether to cancel the ban on fracking. As for your point about farm animals being poisoned near well-heads – quote your sources as it sounds like more green fantasy.

          • cartimandua

            Lots of sources from the USA but as |I said it doesn’t matter if it is a geen fantasy or true in every sense. We export mainly to countries where fracking has been banned (and who by the way have vast land mass compared to us). They will not buy where there is perception of risk.

            Fracking also competes with farming and ag for water use.

            Unless the water companies say there is “enough” whatever the weather does its just not happening.

            If they want to frack at the very least new surface water capture must be built and then not contaminated with

            waste water.

            Cornell a prof of Vet medicine is not a crank.


            “A new report has found dozens of cases of illness, death and reproductive issues in cows, horses, goats, llamas, chickens, dogs, cats, fish and other wildlife, and humans. It says these conditions could be the result of exposure to gas drilling operations.

            Hydraulic fracturing, popularly called hydrofracking, is a process for extracting natural gas from shale using chemicals and water.

            The paper’s authors, Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and veterinarian Michelle Bamberger, DVM ’85, interviewed animal owners in six states — Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — and cited 24 cases where animals were potentially affected by gas drilling.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Voted with my feet, cancelled membership the moment it became obvious that the higher echelons of the organisation had became infested by eco warriors.
    They can wage war all they want, but not with my money, or at least not with the bit of it which I control directly.

    • Bill Brinsmead

      Are you referring to the Heir to the Throne?

  • Bill Brinsmead

    Ask if she’s been petitioned by the President.

  • Rossspeak

    I feel somewhat like Senator Macarthy – “there are 561 card carrying Green loonies in the upper echelons of power and influence in the UK”.
    Tragedy in this case is that it is true – and their eco warrior lunacy seems determined to undermine both any competitive commercial advantages our businesses may have – to say nothing of saddling our hard pressed and hard up energy consumers with unaffordable bills.

  • you_kid

    We don’t need electricity in mid-summer? Who cares whether the author believes there was now a category for most or ‘least needed’ actual real time energy demand?

  • Frank

    She appears to have been over-promoted in the civil service (they were probably mad keen to promote a woman to show level playing fields, yadda yadda), appears not to have been a huge success in the HMRC and now, surprise surprise, reveals bizarre opinions about fossil fuels.
    How does she drive to her job, how does she heat her home, does she use cling film, is she aware that nitrogen for agriculture is a handy by-product of the petro-chemical industries, does she use hair spray, etc?
    Can we ban people like her from ever having access to fossil fuels until they recant publicly?
    As I recall it, the original purpose of the National Trust was to preserve the old houses which, on the whole, were given to it (rather than bought by it as she says). Now she sees the National Trust as a guardian of England (good thing the govt changing the law to allow sideways fracking!!). Ah well, hubris and all that should do for this silly cow.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    When you do a 360 you end up pointed in the same direction.

    • In2minds

      It’s called a revolution?

      • Bluesman_1

        Or just revolting 😉

  • Mr Creosote

    You can’t trust the National Trust.