Fuel costs are a big worry for most households but when your heating bill is £150,000 a year, they are a major headache. It’s one reason why David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, embarked on an ambitious scheme to create his own green energy.
Now, after a two year, £1m project, the gargantuan, grade one listed stately home is about to switch from oil to biomass. The new boiler, powered by wood chips, already supplies offices and houses on the estate and has produced savings of up to 20 per cent.
Lord Harewood, a keen conservationist, describes it as an ethical and economically sound investment that will drastically reduce Harewood’s carbon footprint. “We will be self-sufficient and not dependent on oil supplies that come from the most volatile areas of the planet. Biomass makes perfect sense for us because we can source timber from our own woodlands which is a renewable source,” he says.
The new system is being funded by the sale of 30 of the Harewood estate’s 85 cottages, which have been drip fed onto the market over the past two years. The latest batch of eight properties are on the market with Carter Jonas and include two and three bedroom homes with prices ranging from £175,000 to £200,000. The sale is a rare opportunity for house hunters who aspire to live in this desirable area between Leeds and Harrogate. It is the first time ever on the market for the 18th century homes that were designed by Yorkshire’s most famous architect, John Carr. He built Harewood House for Edwin Lascelles and created the adjoining village for estate workers.
Tony Wright, Head of Residential at Carter Jonas, Harrogate, says: “We expect a lot of interest. The quality and character of the buildings is remarkable and the location is fantastic.”
Meanwhile, heating engineers are checking the old pipework at Harewood House to ensure it will cope with connection to the new heating system. The big switch on is expected in early May.
Christopher Ussher, the estate’s resident agent, says: “The price of oil has come down so the savings aren’t as high as initially expected as but they are still substantial. The system is working well and has been very popular with our office tenants because they now have a rent and service charge inclusive of heat.
“The pipes are up to Harewood House and we are looking to take it to more remote properties and to some of the properties we own in the village. It is all part of becoming more sustainable and self-sufficient. We also have solar panels on our log store and have replaced the estate’s diesel vehicles with electric ones.”
The biomass plant is expected to pay for itself in ten years, thanks to fuel savings and income from government feed-in tariffs. The green heat will also be sold to Harewood House, which operates independently of the 4,000-acre estate and is administered by a separate charitable trust. More than a mile of pipes have been laid across the parkland to the house and other buildings, and Mr Ussher says there is a 20 year supply of timber, which comes from thinnings off the estate’s 800 acres of woodland.
Although the sale of the cottages has upset some tenants, Lord Harewood says:
“By realising the value of some of our cottages and reinvesting in green energy,we will be able to safeguard the future of Harewood’s historic landscape and the major buildings it contains.”
For more details about the cottage on sale, contact: Carter Jonas, tel: 01423 523423, www.carterjonas.co.uk