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Date TimeSeptember 01, 2019
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National Trust blames summer heatwave for missing visitor target as it sounds warning about climate
The National Trust has blamed the heatwave of last summer for failing to hit its visitor targets, as it warned climate change could threaten the future of its sites.  The charity said admission incomes were down nearly £5 million against budget due to what it described as “one of the strangest weather patterns in modern times”.  Scorching temperatures prevailed over the UK from June to August last year, leading to widespread crop failures, wildfires and, it seems, an apathy for wholesome excursions.  Around 26.9 million people paid to visit National Trust sites in the year ending February 2019, short of the 27.4 million target it set itself, according to its annual report. It said: “We had set a budget of £123 million for the year but the difficult weather conditions in the early season and the very hot weather in the summer affected our visitor numbers - admissions income was down nearly £5 million against budget and our commercial contribution missed its target by £10 million.” The changing climate was a recurring theme throughout the 94-page review amid concerns it could have a ruinous impact on the land which the Trust works to preserve.  The National Trust is one of Britain’s largest landowners and has committed itself to slashing energy use and minimising its properties’ carbon footprint.  Earlier this summer, it vowed to cease investment in fossil fuel companies - and now claims to get more of its energy from renewable sources than from “oil and liquid petroleum gas combined”. However, due to the remote location of many of the National Trust’s holdings, the organisation conceded both it and its visitors would rely on fossil fuels for “some years to come”. A strategy has now been put in place to ensure properties are able to cope as best they can with “long-term changes in climate and extreme weather events”. The trust said the risks posed by climate change were “numerous and diverse”, especially if coupled with any cuts to public funding for the environment.  The report added: “The impact of failing to adapt effectively to climate change will be considerable and could significantly impede the delivery of our strategic aims.  “In particular, there may be implications for our ability to restore a healthy, beautiful natural environment and to look after the places in our care both now and into the future.” The National Trust overseas the 780 miles of coastline, 248,000 hectares of land and more than 500 historic houses, gardens and parks in Britain. Elsewhere in the report, the National Trust admitted trust had slumped in the third sector following "failings in some charities' controls and behaviours".  It claimed the negative publicity that followed high-profile scandals - such as revelations Oxfam staff hired prostitutes in Haiti - had "long-term reputational ramifications for all charities". The organisation also said it was at increasing risk of digital fraud after moving much of its information online. "The Trust recognises that any digital fraud or theft would have a greater impact than it would ever have done in the past," the report said, adding that measures were being taken to repel cyber attacks.

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