the Story so far
Holkham’s wonderful location on the north Norfolk coast has its challenges. Due to lack of infrastructure, we were heavily reliant on non-renewable fossil fuels and not connected to mains drainage. We have worked hard to creatively solve these challenges, including setting up a waste water treatment plant in Holkham village and only procuring our electricity from renewable sources known as ‘green energy’.
Our journey gathered pace in 2013 when we installed two biomass boilers to run the Hall and The Victoria Inn. Wood grown on the estate is chipped and used as a fuel for these boilers replacing traditional fossil fuel heating oil. Our woodland is managed via continuous cover forestry; this is an approach that enables natural regeneration and biodiversity, carbon sequestration and carbon storage.
The following year, through a partnership with Egmere Energy, an Anaerobic Digester was built at Egmere which annually takes 35,000 tonnes of maize and rye grass turning them into gas which is used to heat 2,500 homes in the winter in nearby Wells-next-the-Sea. The solid digestate by-product is applied to the fields as a soil improver and mulch in Holkham Walled Garden. The liquid digestate is also applied to our arable fields, thus reducing the need for artificial inputs in the form of fertiliser.
Additionally in 2014, a 100 acre solar farm was installed which generates enough electricity for over 6,000 local homes. Containing 84,552 solar panels, it saves 8,786 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. In addition, we have a number of smaller solar panel installations for example at Wells Beach Café which further reduces our fossil fuel usage.
Low carbon heating methods and water saving are now an integrated and integral part of our development projects. This includes a ground source heat pump at Holkham Studios, an air source heat pump at Hill Farm, an eco-friendly shower block at Pinewoods holiday park and a state of the art cattle building in Wells-next-the-Sea with built-in rainwater harvesting.
During this period, we have also made some advancements in delivering sustainable food production including reducing tillage, planting cover crops, extending the crop rotation, bringing livestock back into the rotation, as well as delivering biodiversity enhancements and habitat provision across the farms and the Holkham National Nature Reserve.