National Trust Neptune coast campaign marks 50th anniversary

The National Trust Neptune scheme is celebrating a landmark birthday after being set up to save North East shoreline stretches

National Trust Images/John Millar Embleton Bay, Northumberland
Embleton Bay, Northumberland

It is the 50th anniversary of the launch of a campaign which has helped the North East coast become one of the region’s greatest natural assets.

Thousands of people have contributed to the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline campaign, which now protects more than 750 miles of shore nationally.

When Neptune was launched in 1965, everything from industry to holiday parks was multiplying along the coastline.

In County Durham , where the coast was scarred by decades of tipping of mining waste, the trust now owns five miles of recovering coast.

Dougie Holden One of the hedgehogs relesaed at Whitburn Coastal Park
One of the hedgehogs relesaed at Whitburn Coastal Park

Acquisitions made with Neptune funding include in 1987 The Leas in South Shields and in 1990 Souter lighthouse.

In County Durham in the same year part of land at Beacon Hill, which was the 500th mile of Neptune coastal acquisition; 1988 land at Horden Point; 1990 land at Horden, Warren House Dene, and at Hawthorne Dene, and in 1998 White Lea Farm.

In Northumberland, the trust cares for Lindisfarne Castle, the Farne Islands, St Aidan’s dunes at Seahouses, Beadnell lime kilns, the little terns nesting site at Long Nanny near Beadnell, Craster to Low Newton, including Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton Bay, Buston Links at Alnmouth, and part of Druridge Bay.

Neptune funding has contributed to an archaeological survey of the Northumberland coast, work to preserve Beadnell lime kilns, inspections of Lindisfarne Castle, Little Nanny tern site management, and Souter coastal events.

National Trust Images/Mike Williams Beadnell Lime Kilns
Beadnell Lime Kilns

People can help protect these coastal places with a £3 donation to the National Trust. Text COAST to 70060.

It is not just about preserving the natural beauty of the region’s coastline.

There is also the economic benefit, such as developing the visitor economy on the County Durham coast, while the total of visitors to the Farne Islands last year was 52,263.

A regional trust spokesperson said: “From wildlife-rich beaches to seaside resorts, the coast gives people an escape from the town. This is what Neptune is protecting.

“Our rich coastal heritage, landscapes and wildlife face challenges. Rising sea levels and demand for development threaten.

“By enjoying the coast we hope more people will feel inspired to join us in helping to care for it.

National Trust Images/Joe Cornish A freight train speeding across the fields at Hawthorn Dene on the County Durham coast
A freight train speeding across the fields at Hawthorn Dene on the County Durham coast

”From urban sprawl to industrial wasteland, what would the coast have looked like without Neptune?”

Phil Dyke, National Trust coast and marine adviser said: “The shores have dramatically shaped our history and the way we live. Many of our special places can be found on the coast.

“But our coast is a fragile environment, and always changing. We need to work with this process of change, such as rising sea levels and natural erosion. Inappropriate development or urban sprawl should be contested and stopped.

“With significant stretches of the coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in good hands, our challenge is to face the future – adapting our coast to natural processes, working in partnership with other organisations to create great opportunities for wildlife, and ensuring people have more and better access to the coast they love.

“Thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of thousands, the last 50 years gives us much to celebrate. Now we can look forward and encourage more people to join us and make the coming decades even more important for our shores.”


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