The Countryside Alliance has been actively campaigning against a members’ resolution which proposed to ban lawful hunting activities on National Trust land since it was announced in September. Although the vote saw a significant increase in support for trail hunting compared to an identical vote in 2017, when the results of the membership vote were announced at the AGM on 30th October, the motion was carried. In total (both for and against), 115,000 votes were cast, representing less than 2% of the national membership.
Following the vote there has been a large volume of press interest and our hunting and press teams have been on hand to answer enquiries. The Alliance's Director of Hunting, Polly Portwin, attended the AGM on Saturday and spoke on behalf of our members and supporters during the short debate.
Ms Portwin told the audience that the Alliance believes the Trust should not be discriminating against anyone who wishes to partake in a lawful activity. She added: "Members of the Trust should recognise that there is no justification for banning these activities when they are lawful and are being conducted in line with the Trust’s licensing policy."
Hunts who use National Trust land for these lawful activities are required to comply with a strict licensing policy and prior to the vote, the Trust’s Board of Trustees stated they are satisfied with the implementation of, and the compliance with, the licensing conditions.
Throughout the course of the relatively short campaign to raise awareness of this vote among Trust members, it became clear that most Trust members see this issue as an irrelevant distraction. The Countryside Alliance believes the National Trust has an important role in the protecting and promoting our heritage and we will continue working with the Board of Trustees to ensure the rural way of life is represented.
Polly Portwin said: “Saturday's vote involved a tiny proportion of the Trust’s membership and is absolutely no mandate for prohibition of a legal activity. Adopting the motion would totally undermine the Trust’s own motto: ‘for everyone, for ever’.
“The principle the Trust follows should be simple – legal activity should be allowed on National Trust land as long as it is not impacting on other users. We remain ready to work with the Trust to ensure that everyone can have confidence that trail hunting activity is open, transparent and legitimate.’
“The result is non-binding so ahead of the Board of Trustees making any policy announcement on this issue, you can be assured that the Alliance will work with the Board of Trustees to ensure that the rural way of life is fully represented,”
Polly continued: “We will ensure the Trust carefully considers the implications of banning a lawful activity while reflecting on the small percentage of their members which engaged with the vote and also taking into consideration the wishes of the original donors of property entrusted to the charity, many of whom were great supporters of hunting.”