THE National Trust for Scotland has launched an “emergency appeal” to raise £2.5 million so it can reopen some of its properties – but warned other sites will remain closed until 2022.
The conservation charity said the coronavirus lockdown has so far left a £28 million hole in its income for this year.
Although the organisation’s premises are closed and many of its staff are furloughed, it must still pay the running costs for its sites, including conserving antiques, feeding livestock and tending plants.
NTS said visitors to its properties and its own spending contribute £300 million a year to the wider Scottish economy.
Chief executive Simon Skinner said some of the charity’s properties would be unable to meet social distancing rules or sustain their running costs and so would remain closed until 2022.
Properties that could stay shut include the Battle of Bannockburn visitors’ centre near Stirling, House of the Binns in West Lothian and Souter Johnnie’s Cottage in Ayrshire.
Skinner warned: “I said at the outset that the trust is in trouble through no fault of our own – our only way back is to take action now and make some difficult choices.
“We are going to have to live within our means – not just at the moment while lockdown is still effectively in full force but in the coming months, too.
“We have to decide which properties we can afford to open, either because they will generate sufficient visitor numbers to help with our recovery or because we can find ways to reopen them that will be compliant with the new normal of public health restrictions.”
He added: “We have already missed the busiest season for some properties and it simply isn’t viable to reopen them in the latter part of the year so we will keep them closed until the new season begins in Easter of 2021.
“Having said that, in some cases where the historic building or centre is closed, it will still be possible to admit visitors to grounds and gardens.
“In a few cases, such is the unsuitable configuration of the buildings in terms of social distancing, or the scale of their running costs, that we will have to consider keeping them closed longer – perhaps into 2022 – until when we hope conditions will have improved sufficiently to bring about a return to better days.”
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