Conservation

As a major landowner, conservation is an important part of our land management strategy. Much of the farmland managed in-hand is in environmental schemes such as Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Entry Level Stewardship (ELS). The Estate also seeks to improve habitat wherever possible through planting and other environmental management projects, working hand- in- hand with large scale conservation bodies such as English Nature, Northumberland National Park, English Heritage and the Environment Agency, as well as smaller local groups such as Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Northumberland Rivers Trust.  

Many sources of renewable energy have been explored and some adopted at Northumberland Estates. A scheme to utilise low grade wood from the forestry department used in a Combined Heat and Power system is currently under investigation, as are a number of small hydro schemes, some based around the system of weirs put in place by Capability Brown in the 1700’s. Newly built industrial units include solar or renewable options where feasible.

 

Conservation - Rivers Trust pond project.JPG

Working with the Northumberland River...

Northumberland Estates has undertaken a number of projects in conjunction with the Northumbe...

Conservation - Rivers Trust pond project.JPG

Working with the Northumberland Rivers Trust

Northumberland Estates has undertaken a number of projects in conjunction with the Northumberland Rivers Trust. In 2012, together with the Environment Agency, six new fish passes were installed on the river Aln, significantly improving breeding opportunities for salmon, sea trout and eels. Other projects with the Northumberland Rivers Trust have seen the creation of settlement ponds and swales on Estate owned land along the River Aln, designed to prevent soil erosion and run off into the River as well as improving wildlife habitats.

Conservation - hydro 1.jpg

Restoring hydro power at Alnwick

A hydro electric system which last operated in 1948 has recently been restored to its former...

Conservation - hydro 1.jpg

Restoring hydro power at Alnwick

A hydro electric system which last operated in 1948 has recently been restored to its former glory in Hulne Park at Alnwick. The electricity produced is used in the Estate’s workshops with surplus going back into the National Grid.    

Alnwick Castle is thought to have been one of the first buildings in the North East to have the use of electric power when the hydro system was originally put in during 1889 by the 6th Duke. This was only a few years after Armstrong installed hydro electric power at neighbouring Cragside.

In its heyday the system could power up to 100 electric lamps around the Castle, with the power cable apparently running from the riverside powerhouse, through the coping stones on the wall, across the Lion Bridge and into the Castle, where it was stored in a bank of batteries in one of the Towers. Aside from a minor glitch in 1938 when the system operator, one Alfred P Deeble, was called up by the Royal Navy Reserve, the system operated without major incident until it was decommissioned in 1948 when mains power was finally installed at the Castle.

The Alnwick hydro scheme produces power via a water turbine which is located adjacent to the Cannongate weir on the River Aln in Hulne Park. Surprisingly, an initial inspection found the original turbine to be in extremely good condition given its age and lack of recent use. It has since been refurbished and given a new modern gearbox. The existing powerhouse was also restored and an up to date generator fitted. Filters prevent fish entering the system and automatic shut down controls deal with high and low water levels. 

Conservation - red squirrel.jpg

Looking after Red Squirrels on the Es...

Northumberland is one of the last strongholds of our native red squirrels and Hulne Park at ...

Conservation - red squirrel.jpg

Looking after Red Squirrels on the Estate

Northumberland is one of the last strongholds of our native red squirrels and Hulne Park at Alnwick is home to a good population. Owned by Northumberland Estates, visitors to Hulne Park may be lucky enough to experience a sighting of one of these endangered animals. If so they are encouraged to report any sightings to Red Squirrels Northern England via their web site at http://www.rsne.org.uk/sightings. This information is vital if scientists are to build an accurate picture of red squirrel populations in the UK.

The Duke of Northumberland is a keen supporter of red squirrel conservation work and recently launched a levy scheme to encourage landowners to aid conservation efforts. He also hosted an awards ceremony designed to honour volunteers who assist conservation efforts nationwide.   

Conservation - grey partridge.jpg

Grey Partridge Conservation

In 2007 Northumberland Estates won the prestigious Purdey Award for its ground breaking work...

Conservation - grey partridge.jpg

Grey Partridge Conservation

In 2007 Northumberland Estates won the prestigious Purdey Award for its ground breaking work to halt the decline in English Partridge (Grey Partridge) numbers.  Recognising that existing conservation schemes of the time were doing little more for existing Grey Partridge populations than allowing them to survive, the first move was to improve habitat.  Begun in 2004, the project had already seen the number of Grey’s increase significantly from a starting point of just 15 pairs when the award was won.

Creating an ideal environment for wild Grey Partridge while simultaneously maintaining profitability on what is an intensively farmed arable unit, is a considerable challenge. Added to that not all of the land is farmed in hand, with local tenant farmers encouraged to participate.

What has resulted is not just a dramatic increase in Grey Partridge numbers, but bird counts show populations of many other species have also improved including tree sparrows, yellow hammers, blackbirds, and many more.  Brown hare populations have also benefited.

Ratcheugh.jpg

Case Study

Maintenance of Listed Buildings

The Estate is responsible for the repair and maintenance of over 200 listed monuments and  buildings. Most are in the North East and many are iconic to the region. They include Alnwick Castle  Warkworth Castle, Prudhoe Castle, the Ratcheugh Observatory, Bondgate Tower, Hulne Priory and  many more including Syon House.  The repair and maintenance of buildings such as these irequires  specialist skills and the annual spend on routine maintenance alone runs into millions.  Recent  spending on external conservation, masonry and lead roof repairs at Syon House cost over £2.3  million. In excess of £2.5 million was recently spent on similar repairs at Alnwick Castle over a seven  year period and an additional £2 million on a restoration project which saw a number of the State  Rooms at the Castle returned to their former glory.