Update : National Trust Licensing Scheme Pilot
IOL is engaged in an on-going dialogue with the National Trust (NT) at both national and regional level as the NT work through their pilot scheme period and find out it’s effects. IOL’s immediate purpose in this is to ensure that the NT is made aware of the impact of their piloting of a new licensing scheme for organisations who use their land/facilities for ‘income generating/commercial events and activities’ as that relates to Outdoor Learning provision.
Whilst IOL recognises the challenge NT faces in sustainable management of its estates, our aim is to ensure that any long term change in NT policy regionally or nationally, does not have a detrimental impact on the participation in or standards of Outdoor Learning as a result.
To date the dialogue with the National Trust has led to further clarification of the perceived need for a new licensing scheme, resulting in a change to the FAQ's on the NT website (Outdoor Activity License FAQs) and publication of a regional statement for The Lake District, the largest and most complex of the pilot areas (IOL NW Region update & local NT statement ).
The pilot is not due to finish until September 2016 and there are clearly a number of issues that need addressing including :
1. Educational Access
IOL cannot support any scheme that diminishes existing educational access rights, so the issue of what is ‘an income generating/commercial activity’ needs to be explored. Many educational activities that introduce or enhance participation in outdoor activities, develop environmental awareness, build self esteem or any number of other outcomes, require a fee to be charged to ensure the service is sustainable, whatever the legal structure of the organisation delivering the service.
There is also a potential conflict with DEFRA opinion on 'commercial purpose' and ‘educational use’ under the CROW Act that needs working through with the NT and other affected parties.
2. Conservation activity
Reducing the contribution to NT’s conservation and sustainability work to payment of a fee has the potential to both undermine existing voluntary labour arrangements and threaten some business models. This includes many small rural organisations that are often key sources of rural employment in small communities and remote locations.
3. Precedents & interdependencies
The impact of the NT charging fees to access certain sites cannot be dealt with in isolation. The charging of access fees for Outdoor learning provision group access has the potential to lead to other landowners adopting a similar model, resulting in a multitude of licenses and administrative burden, it also has the potential to simply shift an environmental impact problem elsewhere. Charging for the provision of facilities or services such as toilets or boat launches is a separate and appropriate matter.
4. Diversity of sites
Not all National Trust sites can or should be treated in the same way. There is a big difference between a historic house and grounds visitor attraction, a honey pot ghyll, beach or crag and a swathe of open hillside or a small patch of woodland. Approaches to limiting access, organising voluntary support or monitoring usage is going to need to vary.
Please continue to contribute to the dialogue with the National Trust through your local IOL executive or the national team