National Trust revisits past to harness green energy

The National Trust has taken another step closer to reaching its ambitious renewable energy targets by installing an innovative hydro-electric scheme at one of its properties in Cheshire.

Quarry Bank, an 18th century cotton mill on the banks of the River Bollin, will switch on the new Kaplan turbine this week, generating 55% of the site’s on-site energy requirements.

The National Trust – which has a target of generating half of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – says it has taken inspiration from Quarry Bank’s past for the installation of this new energy scheme.

The building was founded in 1784 by Samuel Greg, an entrepreneur of the early Industrial Revolution. Greg saw the benefit of harnessing the power of the Bollin to drive the huge water wheel which would in turn power his mill looms. In 1801 he constructed a weir on the river which remains a key feature in Quarry Bank’s landscape to this day.

Major step

Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at the National Trust, said: “This is a transformative scheme. I couldn’t be more delighted that Quarry Bank, with its history of harnessing the energy of natural resources, has taken such a strong lead in converting to clean energy.

“It’s clear to us that we need to make big changes so that we can continue to protect our treasured places and tackle the impacts of climate change. This successful scheme marks a major step forward in our clean energy journey.”

The National Trust’s ambitious renewable energy plan was announced in 2013 in conjunction with renewable electricity supplier and the National Trust’s energy partner, Good Energy. As well as using more renewable energy sources, the National Trust, has committed to reducing its energy use by 20% and halving fossil fuel consumption by 2020.

Last month, the Trust announced it would “nurse the British countryside back to health” under a new £1bn, 10-year plan, which takes the charity far beyond its conventional image of country houses and tearooms.

Luke Nicholls

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