Goldilocks and the Renewables

It is not often that you hear a large organisation referring to its renewable energy programme in terms of a fairly tale. More commonly renewable energy issues are enshrouded in gloom, generating fear either about not enough being done, or the negative impact of new installations on landscapes. But not so at the National Trust. Indeed the feeling of optimism as the new partnership with Good Energy is launched even brought the sun out at the lovely and technologically inspiring Morden Hall Park, south London.
125 acres of open parkland in South London, Morden hall is the perfect place for a conversation about green energy. Refurbished in 2011, the Living Green Centre is the new incarnation of the 19th Century stable block that houses an exhibition, 3 kinds of solar panel, an air source heat pump and a wood burning stove. Coming together by the fire here, Patrick Begg, National Trust’s Rural Enterprises Director and Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder of Good Energy, chatted to the press about the projects, business case and shared vision that make this partnership so exciting.

Filming at Morden Hall. MSlade Living Green Centre Morden Hall  MSlade Morden hall Hydro MSlade

So why Goldilocks? Because, as Patrick pointed out, the energy provisions and requirements of each property have to be just right for the sensitivity of the building or landscape. Historic buildings and collections need a constant temperature, whilst cafes and shops will have peaks and troughs of energy use. Crucially the varying forms of renewable energy generation that can be installed allows the National Trust to make sure it’s not to hot and not to cold, but just right. And that ‘just right’ extends to sensitive installation, real carbon reduction and a development of best practise that can inspire others.

Investing £3.5m to put clean energy at the heart of conservation the Trust is trailing a multi-site approach.

The East front with the Menai Strait and Snowdonia beyond at Plas Newydd, Anglesey, WalesPlas Newydd, a Grade 1 listed mansion, sits on the shores of the Menai Strait amidst breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Consuming nearly 55,000 litres of fuel oil a year the property is looking forward to installing a 300kW marine source heat pump, one of the largest in the UK, which will provide 100% of property’s heat requirements.

A view of Croft Castle, Herefordshire.Croft Castle is a late seventeenth-century castellated manor house with fine Georgian interiors. After installing a 150kW biomass boiler the estate aims to become a centre of learning and forge links with the local community and schools. It is also a good opportunity to explore woodland management

Visitors in front of the Rotunda at Ickworth, Suffolk

Ickworth is a neoclassical country house set in parkland near Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk. Currently the Trusts second largest consumer of fuel oil, when installed, its 300kW biomass boiler will supply 100% of estate’s heating needs

Craflwyn, ©National Trust Images. Stuart Cox 151879Craflwyn, famous for its fabulous walking and beautiful scenery, is a stones throw from the large hydro project in the Hafod y Llan estate. This installation will provide 100kW hydro-generation which will be sold back to the grid.

Woman at the top of Stickle Ghyll, Great Langdale, Cumbria.Stickle Ghyll nestles in the beautiful countryside of the Langdale valley in the Lake District. Famous for its walking, the valley is enclosed by dramatic high fells looming above the pastoral valley floor. The installation of a 90kW hydro-electric project here will provide 30% of property’s energy needs. Alongside the Hydro project the Trust plans to use energy efficiency, food miles, waste reduction, biodiversity and reducing fossil powered vehicular traffic to and from the pub to turn the Stickle Barn into the UK’s most sustainable pub.


Through our work we show that renewable technologies can be made to work in some of the country’s most sensitive landscapes and historic environments.” Patrick Begg.

Embarking on this new partnership the aim is to enthuse people about reducing their consumption, switch to green production and if possible generate energy themselves. Owning some of the most important and protected buildings and landscapes in the country puts the National Trust at the difficult end of the scale for installing renewables. But by sharing expertise about responsible and appropriate development the National Trust and Good Energy say ‘If we can do it, you can do it too’.

By Morwenna Slade

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