The National Trust’s Director-General reiterated her personal commitment to renewable energy in her first speech at the charity’s AGM today (Saturday 26 October).
Speaking at the event, Helen Ghosh, Director General of the charity, said: “Our members and the nation more generally expect us to stand up for cultural heritage and the natural environment, of course.
“We are not just a heritage attraction operator – we have a contribution to make to the debates that matter in this country.
“In the last couple of days my post bag has been dominated by the question of energy.
“We are worried about carbon emissions and the effects of climate change on our properties and the wider world.
“I was in Essex only last week where I saw first-hand the impact of climate change on NortheyIsland.
“That is why we support the development of renewable energy and low carbon technologies that harvest nature not mine it, and that work in the landscape – particularly in the special landscapes that we look after.
“Our own programme of renewable energy, whether it’s hydro-electricity on the slopes of Snowdon, a marine heat pump in the Menai straits, or the many other examples across the Trust, show how we are leading the way in finding practical solutions.
“We know it’s not something we can do alone, which is why we are working with other organisations, landowners and charities.
“There are no easy answers to these questions but it is important that we engage in the debate and stand up for beautiful and historic places.”
Earlier this year the Trust launched a £3.5 million renewable energy pilot that could lead to the charity investing ten times that amount in renewable technology at 43 of its properties.
The Trust has committed to reducing its energy use by 20 per cent and generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.
This will enable the Trust to reduce its energy costs by more than £4 million per annum, releasing more money for the charity’s conservation work.
Thousands of orchids grow alongside PV panels at Plas Newydd in Wales
Speaking at the launch of the pilot, Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the National Trust, said: “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.
“Like householders everywhere we are facing rising energy bills. We spend more than £6 million each year heating and powering the places in our care.
“By investing in renewable energy production we can reduce our energy bills and invest more in vital conservation work around the country. It will put renewable energy at the heart of conservation.”
The Trust’s five pilot projects are:
- Plas Newydd – 300kW marine source heat pump, providing 100 per cent of the property’s heat requirements
- CroftCastle – 150kW biomass boiler, supplying 74 per cent of property’s heating needs
- Ickworth – 300kW biomass boiler, supplying 100 per cent of estate’s heating needs
- Craflwyn – more than 100kW hydro-generation, which will be sold back to the grid
- Stickle Ghyll – 90kW hydro-electric project providing 30 per cent of property’s energy needs
Over the last decade around 250 schemes have been installed in Trust properties including a wide range of technologies: wood (biomass), solar electricity and hot water, small-scale wind, hydro-electric, and heat pumps.
Next month the Trust is launching, with partners, the Fit for the Future Network, including some of the country’s biggest landowners and charities that will share best practice in energy saving and renewable energy generation.