850 acres of woodland which absorb the carbon equivalent of some 250 homes
850 acres of woodland which absorb the carbon equivalent of some 250 homes

With serious concerns about global warming and the damage we humans are causing the environment, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important issue for businesses. However, a recent Insurex survey of event organisers revealed that 62% of companies appear not to have a CSR policy.

It may be called CSR today, but it has been at the heart of the 2,000 acre Winton Estate for 900 years; Winton House and the Estate have always been managed for the next generation… for the very long term! However, we would like to tell you something about our approach.

Here is a quick summary of Winton’s CSR strategy at work: the House is heated by a woodchip powered heating system; most of our employees live locally; we use local suppliers whenever possible; we try to recycle whatever we can; and our approach to farming the Estate aims to help wildlife thrive.

We know there is more we can do and try to ensure that our approach to the environment improves further over time; to this end, Winton has its very own Green Policeman, Henry Martin, who is responsible for implementing our Environmental Action Plan and ensuring we continue to raise the bar.

Our wood chip heating system reduces carbon emissions by 100 tonnes every year

“About a third of Winton Estate is covered in trees which provide a fantastic wildlife habitat. This naturally contributes to around 2,500 tonnes of carbon being absorbed from the atmosphere, equivalent to the carbon emissions from 250 average households,” says Sir Francis Ogilvy, factor for the Estate.

Winton House is in a lovely country setting, just half an hour from Edinburgh
Winton House is in a lovely country setting, just half an hour from Edinburgh

“In terms of fuel, the House and four Estate cottages use heating and hot water supplied by our pioneering woodchip boiler. The boiler burns woodchips and poor quality timber which would otherwise go to waste, and results in our carbon emissions being reduced by some 100 tonnes of carbon each year.”

Going local when we can

Community involvement is at the heart of managing Winton House, our 4 and 5 star self-catering farmhouses, and the Estate. We use as many local suppliers as possible and the majority of our employees, tradesmen, contractors and even musicians live locally in East Lothian.

On the catering side, we are proud that our chefs use a lot of locally-produced foods: Winton beef, game birds, venison, chicken, lamb, fruit and vegetables, hand-baked organic bread, and Belhaven trout. We also serve the unique East Lothian Brammle liqueurs and local Glenkinchie whiskies.

We recognise the value of keeping investment in the locality and estimate that Winton spends more than half a million pounds annually in the local economy. Indeed, 12 miles of new and upgraded Winton Walks were recently created by our foresters, and these are now popular with locals and visitors.

Aiming to recycle

Where possible, the House recycles all glass, plastics, paper and metal, as well as printer cartridges and mobile phones. Larger items such as scrap metal, furniture, and computers are also recycled; energy efficient light bulbs are used, wherever possible; and we try to replace windows and doors with thermally efficient ones as opportunities arise.

The House and self-catering farmhouses, as well as the Estate houses, use septic tanks for waste water, and drainage from car parks and Estate roads does not run into water courses.

Encouraging wildlife through sustainable farming

Sir Francis Ogilvy concludes:

“We try to use chemicals on the farms sparingly, and our farming policies are driven via a number of schemes which tie in with the local Biodiversity Action Plans.

“These have resulted in us creating ponds, wetlands, extended hedgerows, uncropped areas and wildlife field margins where wildlife can thrive. Fenced off buffer strips along the River Tyne, free from sheep and cattle, have also attracted a lot of  wildlife. The Kingfisher has now returned and we have increasing numbers of native partridge.

“Overall, we are working hard to run our corporate hospitality, self-catering and farming operations in a sustainable way, but we know there is always more we can do. Winton is a wonderful, tranquil place so it is only right that we develop and manage it in a way that is sustainable and kind to the environment. I hope you will continue to visit us and have an opportunity to enjoy Winton again in the not-too-distant future.”

More information is available in our section on Corporate Social Responsibility.