Front page of The Telegraph 2nd Sept 2017


National Trust ‘painting a target’ on legal hunts with new website

1 SEPTEMBER 2017 • 10:15PM

The National Trust was plunged into a bitter row with countryside campaigners tonight over its decision to publish details of hunting meetings ahead of a vote to ban the sport.

The trust was accused of effectively ‘painting targets’ on huntsmen by posting on its website the times and locations of legal hunts on its land. The field sports lobby said such information would be invaluable to saboteurs and animal rights activists, increasing the risk of violent disruption.

The decision to publicise the hunts comes ahead of the charity’s annual general meeting next month when it will vote on a motion tabled by the League Against Cruel Sports for an outright ban of all hunting on National Trust land.

This is another example of the National Trust drifting an awfully long way from its roots Tim Bonner, Countryside Alliance

The trust quietly introduced new measures last week, including the publication of hunts, in a move seen as a worrying crackdown by the country sports enthusiasts.

It comes after a series of clashes between the trust and its land users in recent years.

Last night, the Countryside Alliance said the National Trust’s leadership was being influenced by a social media campaign orchestrated by anti-hunt campaigners masquerading as members.

Tim Bonner, the alliance’s chief executive, said the row was “another example of an organisation that has drifted an awfully long way from its roots”.

The trust insisted it was not “in the pocket” of anti-hunt activists and was impervious to the influence of social media, adding it “deplored” intimidation and abuse.

A stand-off is now likely, with huntsmen and tenant farmers, who host the meets, saying they would prefer to hunt unlicensed than advertise their presence online.

As well as the risk of physical confrontation, participants and local business such as pubs and B&Bs fear “trolling” and other online reprisals if they are publicly connected to the sport.

Richard Williams, joint-master of the Eryri, which hunts over National Trust land in Snowdonia, said: “There are lots of people who use National Trust land but I feel we’re being picked on, having to jump through all these hoops.

“I think it’s unjustifiable. We’ll been harassed by anti-hunting people. The National Trust is giving in to them.

“We have a workable relationship at the moment, but now I’m hugely concerned.

“There is a chasm between the attitude of the Trust and reality and what they think is going on in the work. They spend most of their lives on their iPhone.”

The new package of rules come ahead of the National Trust’s AGM in October where it will debate the motion tabled by the League Against Cruel Sports. The call for the ban is being supported by an online petition signed more than 136,000 times, although nearly 68,000 of these signatories are reportedly based outside the UK.

Mr Bonner said: “There is just a complete lack of understanding of hunting and hunting people at the National Trust. There has not been any consultation with any of the hunting associations – that is totally unacceptable.

“There has been social media campaign going on which is influencing the trust. It’s nonsense that they think what happens on Facebook is a reflection of what is going on in reality. Social media use among the rural community is limited. If you think about it it’s fairly obvious.”

In the 1990s the National Trust was accused of betraying people who had bequeathed their land to the trust on the condition that hunting should be allowed when it announced a ban on stag hunting.

Last year Lord Bragg described the trust as a “bully” when it bought a tranche of land in the Lake District but the not the farm that sits on it. Critics said the part purchase of Thorneythwaite Farm in Borrowdale made it impossible for local farmers to preserve the landscape as a working farm.

Since the ban on traditional hunting in 2004, large numbers of hunts have adopted trail hunting, where an animal scent is laid by a human on foot or quad bike for a pack of hounds to follow.

Those wanting to operate over National Trust land are required to enter into a “licensing” agreement.

Yesterday the trust said the terms of the licences had not been reviewed for several years and that it had “lost confidence that everything possible was being done to ensure that the law was everywhere being upheld”.

Also among the new requirements is a prohibition on using “animal-based scents” in trail hunting. Critics say this will effectively make hunting impossible as foxhounds are brought up to follow these scents.

Historic fell packs in the Lake District, which hunt on foot, are likely to be particularly affected by the new conditions because of the preponderance of National Trust land in the area.

Eric Taylforth, a National Trust tenant farmer in the Langdale Valley who hosts four hunt meets a year, said the website requirement would “paint a target” for saboteurs.

“It can be very intimidating,” he said. “Publishing the details is inviting them to come – it’s very worrying.”

A spokesman for the National Trust said its “first priority” was to protect conservation and access to its land.

“We are making it explicitly clear to all stakeholders that trail hunting, if properly practised, is legal and a legitimate outdoor activity,” he said.

He rejected as “unfair” the criticism that publishing details of meets on the trust’s website would attract saboteurs, adding: “We deplore the use of abuse, threatening language and any physical violence.”

He said hunts had always been required to provide details of their meets, when asked, under the terms of the licence but that “the mechanism to make sure this is working was faulty.”

“The proposal to put the information in one place, where those who wish to avoid running into a hunt – of which there are many – or those who wish to watch the spectacle can find out the details, is a response to a malfunctioning system.”

The National Trust has checkered relationship with its land users.

In the 1990s it was accused of betraying people who had bequeathed their land to the trust on the condition that hunting should be allowed to continue when it announced a stag hunting ban.

Last year Lord Bragg described the trust as a “bully” when it bought a tranche of land in the Lake District but the not the farm that sits on it. Critics said the part purchase of Thorneythwaite Farm in Borrowdale made it impossible for local farmers to preserve the landscape as a working farm.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/01/national-trust-painting-target-legal-hunts-new-website/

North West Hunt Saboteurs Association

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You can also donate using the link on our web page – www.nwhsa.org.uk

Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports

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2 Replies to “Front page of The Telegraph 2nd Sept 2017”

  1. It’s very obvious that the Countryside Alliance are making an issue about this because it stops them from killing wild animals – which is against the law. I can’t quite see what the complaint is after all hunting live animals with a pack of dogs is illegal and anybody that indulges in that pursuit is a criminal. Are they declaring that they are criminals and don’t care about UK law? They can still ‘trail’ hunt which is exactly what they claim to have been doing for the last 12 years so what’s the problem?

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