Here at Hestercombe we aim to restore, preserve and enhance our environment, fully embracing every opportunity to be as “green” as we can.
Key to our green credentials is our biomass boiler, which heats Hestercombe House, the Visitor Centre, the Estate Office, Woodland Barn and even our Victorian Greenhouses! Installing the biomass boiler in 2014 reduced our CO2 emissions by up to 90%. Previously it took around 40,000 litres of oil a year to heat the 90 plus rooms in Hestercombe House! Now we can sustainably use our own woodland to help heat the whole site. Thinning out our woodland to help regeneration, we produce around 50 tonnes of softwood every year, which can be burned in the biomass boiler. A total of 350 metres of super-insulated pipe takes the heat to the house, the Watermill, the Visitor Centre and the Estate Office. As well as our super-efficient heating system, we also compost all green food and garden waste, and recycle wherever possible.
Wildlife and habitat management…
The wildlife here at Hestercombe is looked after through a number of measures, including:
- Periodic thinning of the woodland to provide the native broadleaf tree species more growing space to fully mature;
- Replacing and introducing native broadleaf trees in favour of coniferous species to improve habitat and wildlife diversity;
- Ongoing planting of native shrubs within the woodland to create a wildlife friendly habitat;
- Maintaining a wildflower meadow, to encourage a diverse range of insects, butterflies and moths;
- Creation of woodland understorey, woodland edge, water edge, standing timber piles and flight corridors to provide food and habitat to support our very rare Lesser Horseshoe bats;
- Ensuring birds can use nesting boxes, installed throughout the site;
- Holding off forestry work between the months of March and October to protect nesting birds;
- Ensuring badger setts are not disturbed.
Hestercombe also uses solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to produce electricity, which we can use in the Visitor Centre, reducing our demand for electricity from the national grid. Rain and natural spring water helps to power our Victorian turbine which is connected to a dynamometer to supply electricity to the Watermill complex as well as to power our waterwheel. We also have an electric car charger in the car park, this is a free electric car charging point, so we can support green travel.