28 October 2021
Blenheim’s Chief Executive has pledged to ‘weaponise’ every part of the 12,000-acre Oxfordshire estate in the fight against climate change.
In the run-up to 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, Dominic Hare has unveiled a detailed plan to revolutionise the way the UNESCO World Heritage Site is operated post COVID.
The headline commitment is for Blenheim to become carbon neutral on scopes 1 – 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol across all operations by 2027 and, beyond that, to remove 230,000 tonnes CO2e from the atmosphere by 2050.
The ‘Green’ manifesto is now the dominant goal of the estate’s leadership team, which believes global warming is the single biggest threat to Blenheim’s long-term survival.
“As a major legacy land-owner, a multi-million pound business and a world-renowned visitor attraction we have both a significant responsibility to help, and an opportunity to make a real difference,” said Dominic.
“All of this will require significant investment and a real sea-change in all of our working practices, however we are now facing a stark choice – if we do not act now the consequences will be much, much worse,” he added.
Blenheim’s annual carbon output across all its businesses is just over 32,000 tonnes CO2e, almost two-thirds of which are the emissions of the journeys made by visitors to get there.
“In order to retain our World Heritage Site status and to protect this wonderful and unique estate we rely on the generosity and the support of all our visitors,” said Dom.
“Our challenge is to continue to grow and support our surrounding communities, while ensuring our actions not only do not harm the wider environment but, over time, actually benefit it.
“We will reduce our carbon output by 5% every year through implementing an internal carbon tax, working with local and low carbon suppliers and helping at least 50% of all visitors to arrive via carbon friendly methods by 2026,” he added.
Visitors arriving by bicycle, or on public transport already receive 30% off their admission ticket and Blenheim is planning to offer further incentives, as well as carbon off-setting options.
The estate is appointing a new Climate Manager to oversee all its operations, improving the energy efficiency of its existing buildings and increasingly constructing new buildings and homes to carbon zero standards.
“Our existing woodlands currently sequester just over 5,000 tonnes CO2e, giving us a net carbon footprint of 27,000 tonnes CO2e,” said Dominic.
“However, all these initiatives still mean we need to offset a further 16,400 CO2e. To do this we have already begun restoring 30 hectares of wetland, planting an additional 358 hectares of new forests, with 32km of new public footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways, creating a series of new solar farms on our land and moving 600 hectares of land to full regenerative agriculture,” he added.
To help support local communities’ goals to develop lower carbon lifestyles, Blenheim will also build shared work and social facilities and link them with a network of cycle and pedestrian routes across its land.
It will create a web of open sensor and data stations, allowing residents, schools and organisations to monitor and manage the impact of climate change on their communities and seek to deliver further solar PV generation capacity on its land of sufficient scale to provide green energy to every home in at least West Oxfordshire.