As a rural Estate, we are well placed to make a substantial and constructive impact over what we take from the countryside and what we put back. Our record of this is improving all the time and we continue to make practical improvements wherever possible.
The use of chemicals in farming is monitored carefully and applied sparingly to promote growth and control disease. The farms are certified by a number of schemes and we endeavour to do more than the bare minimum to comply.
Other environmental schemes have been in operation across the whole Estate for many years and yield considerable wildlife benefit. These schemes frequently share the objectives of the local Biodiversity Action Plans. They have led to the creation of ponds, wetlands, wildlife field margins as wildlife corridors, an extension of hedgerows and the provision of uncropped areas (providing a source of food for birds during winter).
Buffer strips, fenced off from cattle and sheep grazing along the River Tyne, have also been remarkably effective in attracting wildlife. The Kingfisher is one example of a species which has returned. The number of partridges, which are a wildlife ‘indicator species’ are generally stable or on the rise.
About 1/3 of the Estate is covered in trees. These provide a substantial habitat resource and shelter for many species. For more, see Forestry & Biofuels.
Winton House and 5 Estate cottages are heated and have hot water generated by our woodchip fired heating system (the woodchip boiler is, therefore, heating the equivalent of 36 houses!). The woodchips are cut and dried from the some of the lower-grade timber found on the Estate. The chips are carbon neutral since emissions only give out as much CO2as is absorbed during the growth period. It is estimated that 100 tonnes per year of carbon emissions are saved each year.
The 850 acres of forestry and surrounding farmland contribute to around 2,500 tonnes of carbon being absorbed from the atmosphere each year, equivalent to carbon emissions from 250 average households.
Where possible, waste products are recycled through the local Council collection scheme. Other aluminium, glass and paper recycling projects are encouraged by both Winton employees and visiting guests, with monitoring by the Estate’s “Green Policeman”!
Other steps taken to reduce energy consumption and our impact on the environment include: ‘hippo’ water saving units are placed in cisterns in the loos; fridges and freezers are turned off between events, whenever possible; chlorine-free loo paper, kitchen towels and environmentally friendly Eco Point cleaning products are used; and biodegradeable ‘palm leaf’ plates and cutlery are used for barbeques. Where possible, energy efficient lighting has replaced traditional light bulbs.
Our energy usage is monitored and shared with staff on our ‘green noticeboard’ to find other ways of reducing consumption.