Case Study
  • Posted on May 4th, 2022

Blenheim Palace Estates declares a Climate Emergency

About Blenheim Palace Estates

Blenheim Palace Estates is a large Palace and subsidiary buildings in 12,000 acres of mixed farmland.  In 2019 Blenheim declared a Climate Emergency. Blenheim took the executive decision to move to be carbon neutral by 2027.  Blenheim set their boundary to include all carbon emissions (including international visitor travel), and to offset residual emissions within its own land.  This is one of the most far-sighted net zero policies of any cultural organisation.

An initial analysis

In 2018 Blenheim had complied with Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) Phase II, and in 2019 following the declaration of a Climate Emergency, they undertook a full carbon footprint (scope 1, 2 and 3).  The audit showed that 63% of emissions came from visitors’ travel, and of these, most derive from international visitors. 

Taking action

Using the findings they prepared a climate action plan to meet their carbon neutrality commitment by 2027. This involves action plans for visitor travel, and for offsetting and regenerative approaches on their own land (e.g. woodland planting, wetland restoration, regenerative farming and solar panels), and for improving the energy-efficiency of properties.

Visitor climate actions:

  • Offer visitors a variety of significant discounts and incentives if they have travelled by public transport to reduce car emissions
  • Deliver an offsetting option for those visitors who travel by car
  • Develop market-leading carbon friendly guidelines for all events so that they act as exemplars to all attendees
  • Retain Belnheim’s gold Green Tourism accreditation, to demonstrate best possible operations across their visitor business
  • Increase recycling rates by 10% each year.

Land-based actions:

  • Begin Blenheim’s first regenerative farming project on land north of Woodstock, which will enhance the health of the soil to increase climate resilience
  • Deliver the UK’s first ‘stage zero’ project using nature-based solutions to reconnect floodplains back to their rivers and, in doing so, hold back flood waters and capture carbon
  • Complete a first scale solar park as an initial step to take Blenheim off-grid
  • Work with partners to plant 280,000 trees in 300 acres of new woodlands, and for the first time at this scale of planting, use plastic-free tree guards
  • Open-up grass routes to connect 17km of circular paths
  • Continue to shift fossil fuel vehicles to electric and, where we cannot, move them to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, reducing emissions by 95%.

Properties climate actions:

  • Start the largest rural Passivhaus development in the UK. Passivhausing (following a specific low energy design standard) offers residents far better air quality, a lower carbon footprint and a much lower fuel cost
  • Launch a new Church Farm community in Radley where each home will include an air source heat pump, solar panels and access to electric car charging – reducing the carbon footprint across the entire site
  • Bring 10% of the lettings portfolio with an EPC rating of less than ‘C’ (126) up to ‘C’ rating in the next 12 months
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of all new homes started in the next 12 months by 10% and offset 100% of what we can’t eliminate.

Learning through action

Through these steps, Blenheim have gone on a journey from developing an initial understanding of their climate impact, right through to developing a policy and action plan for becoming zero-carbon within their own boundaries. Blenheim has demonstrated that good practice comes from embedding core values and principles related to climate goals, using evidence to understand where to make improvements, prioritising actions, setting targets and beginning to make change towards meaningful and achievable net zero goals.

Image: Blenheim Palace spring Italian gardens