Our appointment to the National Trust council

13 February 2019

The National Trust has resolved that the society should continue to have an appointee on its council. Beverley Penney served for nine years, and did a great job for us, but now her term has expired. The society has appointed its former chairman, Graham Bathe, in her place.

Graham (right), who lives on the edge of the New Forest, has 40 years’ experience in access and countryside, working for government agencies, local authorities and charities in Britain and overseas. He led English Nature’s access work on the Countryside and Rights of Way Act from passage in Parliament to implementation, reconciling access and biodiversity on 500,000ha of our best wildlife habitat. From 2005-2011 he was the principal project manager leading Natural England’s work on the Commons Act. Graham has worked on nationally and internationally scarce wildlife, countryside visitor surveys, and environmental conflict resolution. He chaired the Wildlife and Access Advisory Group, has served on the National Countryside Access Forum, Defra’s Commons Act Project Board, and New Forest and Hampstead Heath committees. He is a former director of the Foundation for Common Land, and chairman of the Open Spaces Society. He has published over a dozen papers and books, mainly relating to ancient hunting forests and aspects of Tudor history.

The Council is called the ‘guardian spirit of the Trust’, and its role is to consider strategic and policy issues governing its functions. Says Graham: ‘I am eager to adopt the principles of conflict-resolution in the pursuit of Trust work, seeking to reconcile access, wildlife, heritage and a working countryside within a vibrant estate. This involves giving people the opportunity to express what is really important to them, and then working to find a way forward, without one party assuming primacy. We need to recognise the sense of identity and belonging that people have concerning Trust properties—and other green spaces—close to where they live. It is always difficult to marry 21st-century pressures with the conservation of our traditional heritage. However, we can still be inspired by the voices of the Trust’s founders, many of whom were great visionaries, carrying messages which still resonate today.’

Minchinhampton Common, Gloucestershire

Beverley Penney: ‘I have greatly enjoyed my time on the National Trust Council. The trust is a good friend to the society, sharing our environmental principles, and caring for a huge number of commons, rights of way and wonderful landscapes. Fascinating for me has been the opportunity to get under the skin of a big organisation with its simple aims yet complex tasks. The trust’s experience of working with people to help safeguard their local open spaces, most recently in Newcastle, will lead to much more of this important work of securing green space close to people’s homes.

‘I have been impressed by the ever-improving website too. This includes the digitised property handbook, established as a tribute to my predecessor on the council, the terrific Rodney Legg. This was one of his visions and it is splendid that it has been realised.’

Beverley continues to serve on the trust’s committee for Wales.