National Trust marks Lottery's birthday with heritage warning

The National Trust has used the tenth anniversary of the National Lottery to accuse the Government of having "quietly dropped or delayed" a number of policy initiatives to protect heritage sites.

At the trust's AGM in Newcastle last weekend, director general Fiona Reynolds praised the Heritage Lottery Fund's record of support for heritage but warned of doubts about the Government's commitment to the historic environment. "A succession of recent decisions threatens to prejudice the future of what is a major social and economic asset," she said.

Reynolds warned that Government plans for building 100,000 new houses in the south east will crowd out National Trust properties in a "sea of mediocrity".

The trust is also opposed to draft reforms to the planning system that include changes to the policy statement on heritage. "The previous wording was far stronger and less ambiguous about protecting the historic environment locally," said assistant director of policy Gregor Hutcheon. "The new wording could be interpreted as a weakening of protection."

Reynolds said the Government had yet to act on the recommendations of a Treasury review into tax incentives for donations to museums and galleries, which was published in January.

The trust also fears that heritage will be the loser if money is diverted from Lottery funds into the Olympics Lottery fund, which will be launched if the UK bid for the 2012 games is successful.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell said there was no threat to Lottery funding of heritage. "People in this country value their heritage and love their heritage, and while that continues there is absolutely no threat to the lottery share for heritage," she told the BBC.

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