Turning nature into energy at Ickworth

A view of Ickworth Rotunda and wings through autumn leaves

We’ve changed the way we heat some of the buildings at Ickworth. This means we are better able to manage the woodland on the estate in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.

The project is part of our ambitious renewable energy programme with green energy partner Good Energy.

In 2015, we replaced the old oil powered heating system with wood-fuelled biomass boilers. This has saved us using 38,000 litres of the fossil fuel per year. It's also avoided over 100 of tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere each year.

The wood chip we use comes from non-native conifers, planted on the estate in the 1960s and 1970s. By thinning the softwood we’re able to provide a real conservation win on our land as the traditional ecosystem has begun to re-emerge.

Bats and newts recorded

As the conifers no longer block out light from the forest floor native species of plants, saplings and wildflowers have started to cover the forest floor.

Eagle-eyed nature spotters have reported seeing a diverse range of insects including dragonflies and grasshoppers as well as bats and newts.

" It’s fantastic to see the impact this has started to have on what were previously dark, dense areas of woodland. There’s still a long way to go but we’re seeing signs of recovery on parts of the estate."
- Dee Gathorne-Hardy, head ranger, Ickworth

Dee Gathorne-Hardy, our head ranger on the 1800-acre estate, said: 'Through better forest management and a fresh approach to nature conservation we’ve been able to remove non-native species giving the forest floor a chance to breathe again.

'It’s fantastic to see the impact this has started to have on what were previously dark, dense areas of woodland. There’s still a long way to go but we’re seeing signs of recovery on parts of the estate.'

‘It’s been fantastic to see how renewable projects like the biomass boiler at Ickworth are transforming the energy use of some our oldest and most special buildings. The National Trust is truly inspirational with this approach,’ said Juliet Davenport CEO of Good Energy.

‘Together, we’ve worked hard to inspire consumers to switch to cleaner, greener forms of electricity and help to build a more sustainable energy future for the UK.’

Ambitious programme

By removing the boilers and risk of contamination from oil, we’ve managed to cut our energy bills. The result: more money to put back into our conservation work at Ickworth.

The Ickworth boiler scheme is part of our £33m Renewable Energy Investment (REI) Programme to tackle climate change. We’re developing over 40 of these renewables projects across the country involving heat pumps, biomass and solar power, to help generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.