NTS seeks £50m to safeguard Scotland’s treasures

THE National Trust for Scotland has warned it will need to raise almost £50 million extra over the next decade to keep its vast array of properties and land across the country up to scratch.

Falkland Palace in Fife is in line for a slab of funds for restoration. Picture: Craig Stephen
Falkland Palace in Fife is in line for a slab of funds for restoration. Picture: Craig Stephen

Scotland’s biggest conservation charity, which is responsible for some of the nation’s best-known landmarks, beauty spots and historic sites, will need to generate at least £4.6m a year on average for the next ten years.

That represents more than a third of what it already spends, £11.6m. This is largely funded by its 320,000-strong membership and private donors.

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Kenneth Calman, the organisation’s chairman, has warned NTS will have some “harsh truths to grapple with” over the next few years because of the “enormous” sums of cash involved in maintaining its estate, which includes more than 1,500 sites, properties and buildings.

However, the charity’s trustees are said to have described the prospect of raising the cash as “challenging, but do-able”.

Attracting tens of thousands of new members every year over the next decade, generating more income from individual properties and running multi-million-pound fundraising campaigns around the world are being planned in an effort to raise the extra funds.

But the £46m figure – described as NTS’s additional “cost of care” bill – does not include major projects to improve visitor facilities, such as those proposed at the birthplace of David Livingstone in Lanarkshire.

The extra money will go to maintain, restore and repair historic buildings, landmarks and monuments, and care for beauty spots ranging from parks and gardens to Munros. NTS – which sold its headquarters in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square to help head off a previous financial crisis – is responsible for 129 attractions and nature reserves across 200,000 acres of countryside.

The trust is Scotland’s biggest conservation charity with around 320,000 members. It has spent 18 months drawing up the financial blueprint for the future, with its findings emerging in the wake of a separate exercise to rank properties in terms of their heritage significance.

Among its main priorities over the next decade will be the islands of Iona, Staff, Canna and St Kilda, the battlefields at Bannockburn and Culloden, plus Ben Lawers and Ben Lomond, both Munros. Other attractions expected to be given top priority include the birthplace of Robert Burns and Culzean Castle, both in Ayrshire; Falkland Palace in Fife; Brodick Castle and its grounds on the island of Arran, and Newhailes mansion house in East Lothian.

Trust chiefs said the ten-year plan was aimed at achieving a “gold standard” quality of care for the sites and attractions under its stewardship.

Terry Levinthal, director of conservation at the trust, said: “This is really about establishing the trust’s work plan for the next ten years and mapping out all the things we want to do … It’s about getting everything in our portfolio up to a standard that we want it to be in.”

Writing in the NTS members’ magazine, Sir Kenneth said: “There are some harsh truths to grapple with as we face the challenge of conserving and interpreting our heritage. Not least is the enormous amount of money needed.”