National Trust reaches decision on trail hunting and defibrillators at its properties

The National Trust has confirmed it will no longer issue licences for trail hunting on its land, following concerns raised by its members.

At its AGM in October Trust members voted overwhelming to ban trail hunting on its land, by 76,816 to 38,184.

This comes amid concerns that illegal fox hunting has been carried out during trail hunts on its land.

The practice had been suspended since November 2020 following a police investigation into webinars involving huntspeople discussing the practice.

In October the former director of the Masters of the Fox Hounds Association (MFHA) was found guilty of “encouraging the use of legal trail hunting as a screen to carry out the unlawful chasing and killing of animals”.

“The board of trustees has carefully considered this issue,” said the Trust’s director of land and nature Harry Bowell.

“Its decision to issue no further licences for trail hunting is based on a wide range of considerations.

“These include - but are not limited to - a loss of trust and confidence in the MFHA, which governs trail hunting, the vote by National Trust members at our recent AGM, the considerable resources needed to facilitate trail hunting and the reputational risk of this activity continuing on our land.”

Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales in 2004. For the last four years the National Trust has had a dedicated trail hunting management team in place to oversee licensing and monitor hunting activity.

“Since then, the Trust has seen both compliant and legitimate activity, but also multiple reported breaches,” added the Trust.


Also at its AGM, members voted for a resolution to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) at Trust properties that have more than 40,000 visitors a year. This should be brought in within two years, said members.

In response the Trust has agreed to “develop and adopt a policy that will lead to providing AEDs at all pay-for-entry properties above a certain volume threshold".

It added: “Work will now take place to establish an appropriate visitor threshold across National Trust places and the best AED option for particular settings.

“The Board also agreed allowing community-funded units where this is feasible, and demand exists, recognising that many of these are already in place.”

Senior staff and volunteers

In addition, the charity is to act on a resolution to disclose the remuneration of senior staff. It has pledged to use its annual report to highlight pay increases to senior staff.

It will also name executive team members alongside their roles, which are currently used to disclose pay, in the reporting table in its annual report. Many of these measures will be adopted for its next annual report, for 2021/22.

Meanwhile, a resolution that “deplores” the treatment of volunteers and asks the charity to treat them “in a thoughtful and respectful way” was not passed.

The trust had said that it already respected its volunteers, but has agreed to bring in changes to bolster communication with them.

This includes refreshing its volunteering strategy in spring 2022 to outline the charity’s “commitment to volunteers".

It added: “Over the next six months there will be a continued focus on supporting volunteers to return after the pandemic and plans to grow volunteering further.”

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