National Trust embraces renewable energy

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Thursday, 1 March, 2007 - 00:00
West Yorkshire

UK environmentalists, eco-architects and conservation staff met last Thursday to discuss how to reconcile environmentally-friendly practices with conservation demands within culturally-sensitive landscapes. The conference, entitled Renewable Energy for Protected Landscapes and Historic Buildings: compromises and opportunities, was jointly hosted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the National Trust and was held in the National Trust's Gibson Mill.

Delegates met to debate issues such as:

  • Which technologies are suitable for sensitive landscapes and historic buildings?
  • Can the innovative designs and technologies used in landmark 'eco buildings' be adapted for use in traditional vernacular or historic buildings?
  • How can we proactively encourage the community to take up renewable energy technologies whilst delivering the message that the special qualities of the landscape and historic buildings should be protected?

The National Trust has already supported renewable energy generation at Gibson Mill, an early nineteenth-century cotton mill which is part of its Hardcastle Crags estate. The mill is the Trust's first self-sustaining historic building, and generates all its energy from hydroelectric turbines, photovoltaic cells on the building's roof, and by burning wood from the estate. The National Trust opposes the development of commercial wind farms as a threat to areas of natural beauty, and has said that it would rather support microgeneration projects instead, such as the renovation at Gibson Mill. It is not clear, however, how these methods could be successfully applied to bigger historic buildings, and the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of such buildings would certainly not be uncontroversial. National Trust staff hope that the renewable energy conference will encourage debate about these issues and result in a closer identification between environmental and conservation-related interests.

Renewable energy on the agenda for planning and conservation staff -- Yorkshire Post

Renewable energy conference website -- Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority