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Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group

How Green is your Castle?

12th November 2010

Plas Newydd, Anglesey, now uses a wood chip boiler and zoned cental heating. It formerly used 30% of the fuel oil used by the National Trust in Wales.

Plas Newydd, Anglesey

How Green Is Your Castle?

          This was the title of a highly informative and entertaining presentation given to Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group at their October meeting by Jo Horsley, Development Officer for Environment Wales. Jo gave a fascinating insight into how the National Trust in Wales had responded to the challenge of global warming and climate change.

          As well as owning castles, mansions, holiday cottages and even villages the NT also own one sixth of the Welsh coastline, much of this in Pembrokeshire. Considerable thought had been given to how best to respond to the widely predicted future changes to our climate and the ever increasing rise in the price of energy.

          Though being responsible for only seven mansions, these accounted for approximately 75% of the energy used by the Trust. The challenge was to reduce consumption. The concentration of so much of the problem in only a few areas has made it easier to find solutions. The mansion of Plas Newydd on Anglesey had used 30% of the fuel oil used by the Trust in Wales. Oil use was reduced to nil by changing to a wood chip boiler and the energy needed for heating was also reduced by zoning the central heating system, only giving most heat to those parts of the mansion used as a residence.

          Erddig in North East Wales is the most environmentally friendly mansion in the country in that it boasts neither heating nor lighting; it remains just as it was in the 18th century. Minimal use of convection heaters helps to combat damp, whilst staff offices are provided with electricity.

          Whitford Lodge on the Gower presents a particularly interesting problem where rising sea levels present an imminent threat. The building was also in dire need of refurbishment. The decision has now been taken to rebuild the Lodge, but this time on stilts and with all services coming in from above. The result will be a centre usable for another 30 years.

          Sadly there appears to be no practical answer to the problem of Porthdinllaen on the Lleyn Peninsular. Here the village, backed by cliffs, can only be protected from the sea for another 25 to 30 years. After that time, the community has been told, it will be claimed by the waves. A high price to pay for our fossil fuel dependency.

          The National Trust has undertaken over 200 reviews of their properties and have devised various ways of dealing with energy loss. Staff awareness has been raised. Meters are now read quarterly as opposed to the old 'flat rate' approach. LED lighting has been installed in some cases. Wherever possible energy is saved. Boilers are now correctly sized, regularly maintained and fitted with tamper proof controls.

          The motto now is 'the most environmentally friendly boiler is a boiler that is off'.

          Generating renewable energy is also vital. At Llanerchaeron and Gilfach Goch photovoltaic cells generate free green electricity, whilst the latter also intends to add a sub 6kW wind turbine. Meanwhile at Hafod y Llan a 29kW wood pellet boiler has been installed.

          In total the Trust has about 175 renewable energy projects in Wales. The technologies involved include hydro, combined heat and power, biomass and wind. By 2015 the National Trust aims to be a net exporter of energy!

          Many questions were asked by members before the Chair thanked Jo for her fascinating presentation. The meeting continued with further consideration of the implications of global warming on sea level rise and how this will impact on coastal areas. Officers reported on their attendance at the Flood Fair recently held at Haverfordwest organised by PCC.

          A report was then given on the progress of Dulas in their work on the Groups renewable energy project. It was hoped that this work would soon be complete, a site identified and further studies then undertaken to bring the project to planning application stage.

          Advanced notice was given to the meeting of progress on the Question Time Event due to be held on 28th January 2011, when all four candidates for the Welsh Assembly election would be answering questions explaining their party's approach to a wide range of environmental issues.

          The Group's next meeting will be held on Thursday 18th November at 7pm at the Regency Hall, Saundersfoot. The speaker will be Steve Hack. Steve runs the renewable energy consultancy Seren Energy and he will be talking on the subject on his experience of community scale renewable energy projects. A cordial welcome is extended to all members of the public.


Past Articles
15th October 2010Challenge of the Rising Sea: The effects on the Pembrokeshire coastline
10th August 2010The beautiful Welsh coastline: Response to possible rising sea levels
18th June 2010Visit to Costain at Canaston Bridge: Not Costing the Earth
16th April 2010Feed in Tariffs: Power to the People
12th March 2010Heat Pumps & Photo Voltaic Panels: Prepare for the Goodlife
12th February 2010Parliamentary Candiates at Green Question Time in Saundersfoot
15th January 2010Weather & Climate: A Question of Energy
4th December 2009Sustainable Community Ventures: Regeneration in Pembrokeshire
13th November 2009Community Initiatives: Sustainable Wales leads by example
16th October 2009Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines
2nd October 2009A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind
11th September 2009Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire
10th July 2009A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential
12th June 2009St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability
24th April 2009Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire
13th March 2009Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun
13th February 2009Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?
14th November 2008Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG
17th October 2008PSEEG to become a Registered Charity

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