National Trust raises membership fees to fund conservation work

National Trust announces price rises for membership Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

The National Trust has announced price rises for membership, which it says will help pay for the £16,000 it spends every hour on conservation work.

The trust said the increase in membership fees by a maximum of 50p a month from March 1 would generate an extra £11 million to pay for work to protect countryside and heritage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The extra cash will support projects including £5 million in repairs at Ickworth in Suffolk and £4 million to transform the visitor experience at Sutton Hoo, in the county, the site of one of Britain’s best archaeological finds, the trust said.

Some £2.2 million will go to restore the dams and refill lakes at Prior Park Landscape Garden in Somerset, and a £6.7 million conservation project at Seaton Delaval in Northumberland will repair the 18th century “party house”.

The National Trust spent £138.4 million on conservation during 2017/18, an average of £15,799 per hour over the course of the year.

A record £101.3 million for the organisation went on looking after historic buildings and their collections, while £30.4 million was spent on coast and countryside and £6.7 million on gardens.

Conservation work has repaired the roof and chimneys at The Vyne, Hampshire Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Projects which have been completed include the £5.4 million roof conservation at The Vyne in Hampshire and the acquisition of 200 acres at Tughall Mill in Northumberland where little terns fledged last year.

People over 26 will pay £3 a year extra to be members of the organisation which cares for hundreds of historic properties, miles of coastline and tracts of land, while family membership will go up by £6 a year.

A family with two adult members will now pay £126 a year for membership.

Over-60s who have been members for at least five of the past 10 years will see a £2.52 annual rise and a joint loyal senior membership will go up by £4.80, while young people aged 18-25 will pay an extra £1.50 a year.

There is no rise in the £10 membership for junior members aged five to 17 which was introduced last year.

The money will help fund conservation work at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Sharon Pickford, the charity’s director of support and revenue, said: “As always, we rely on the support and goodwill of our loyal membership to allow us to keep caring for some of the nation’s most treasured places, on behalf of everyone.

“Membership fees allow us to look after 300 historic properties, 778 miles of coastline and 250,000 hectares of countryside across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Many of the places we protect, like coast and countryside sites, are free to visit and as an independent charity we don’t receive any direct Government funding.

“This small increase in the price of membership will help us to be rightly ambitious for nature and for the state of historic places, at a time when conservation work couldn’t be more needed.”