Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Efford Mill Lymington halves annual energy costs

The owners of a New Forest watermill first recorded in the Domesday Book have cut their energy bills in half by undertaking a range of energy saving improvements.

Efford Mill, near Lymington, has been fitted with a variety of green features to slash the costs of running the medieval and Georgian property, from high-tech power systems to common sense measures such as insulation.

Efford Mill in Lymington has drastically reduced their energy costs.
Back row (left to right): Simon Rogers, Fiona Rogers, Jeremy Rogers.
Front row (left to right): Tom Rogers, Hattie Rogers, Patricia Barrie
The mill, owned by Fiona and Jeremy Rogers, is throwing open its doors to the public over the weekend of 4 and 5 October as part of Green Open Doors, an open house event run by the New Forest National Park Authority to inspire people to save energy around the home.

Fiona and Jeremy moved into Efford Mill in 1964 and spent years painstakingly restoring the mill to house four generations of their family, from 10 year old Tom Rogers to his 94 year old great granny Patricia Barrie.

By 2006 the property was largely restored, but its energy costs had soared to over £5,000 a year.

In an effort to reduce their bills and live more sustainably, the family set about transforming their home with environmentally friendly measures. These include solar panels controlled from a former World War Two bunker and a ground source heat pump buried in the bed of the river that snakes through their back garden.

Energy saving at Efford Mill is not restricted to high-tech energy systems; the family have also installed more common features including double glazing, water butts and wood burning stoves.

The public can see the mill’s eco-features and ask the owners about the pros and cons of sustainable living throughout the Green Open Doors weekend.

This includes discussing the relatively high set up costs of eco-technology for the home, with solar panels costing the Rogers family £8,000 and their ground source heat pump setting them back £16,000.

Fiona said: ‘Our set up costs were quite high for our main energy saving features, but we are taking a long term view. The solar panels will pay for themselves in eight years and the heat pump in 15 years, plus the panels now earn us a feed in tariff payment of around £800 a year.

‘We are quite happy about that, because we are aiming for the lowest carbon footprint possible, and we are certainly not paying anything like the gas and oil bills that we would have had. We feel strongly that sustainability is the only logical way forward.

‘As a family we feel that living an environmentally friendly lifestyle makes sense.  We have nine grandchildren and we are concerned about the future for them and all their generation.  We try not to fly if we can travel by train instead, and we don’t take holidays abroad any more, but we don’t claim to be saints, and we freely admit that everything’s a compromise.’

Green Open Doors is a free event, organised by the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Transition, which sees 11 properties opening their doors throughout the weekend of 4 and 5 October.

Find out about the participating properties, and which energy saving features their owners can advise on, at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/greenopendoors.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world

Pig at Balmer Lawn in the New Forest Hampshire UK
A pig at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst. Credit: Luke Parkinson.
The ancient New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world, thanks to the pigs’ free roaming lifestyle and diet of acorns.

The claim comes from top chef James Golding, chef director at The Pig Hotel Group, who says that meat from pigs turned out by New Forest commoners to roam freely in the Forest is proving a hit with his guests.

The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst, and some pannage practising commoners, are members of the New Forest Marque, a quality assurance scheme supported by the New Forest National Park Authority that promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, while encouraging people to shop locally.

A practising commoner is someone who makes use of common rights attached to their property. The right to turn out pigs during the autumn to feed is called ‘pannage’ or ‘mast’.  Over 300 pigs were turned out in 2013 and they play a crucial role in the New Forest by eating acorns that are poisonous to ponies and cattle.

James Golding said: ‘I believe the superior flavour of pannage pork is due to a combination of its acorn-rich diet and the free roaming life of the pigs. I always say that a happy pig is a tasty pig!

‘We have seen that customers ‘in the know’ actively search out eateries in the area that are serving pannage pork. It’s a bit like every seasonal food; it’s not around all year and should be enjoyed when it’s available and at its best.

‘Using pannage pork at The Pig shows our passion for local produce. With the help of the New Forest Marque we now source 80 per cent of our produce from within a 25 mile radius.’

New Forest Marque member Jamie Burgess, of P.R. Burgess and Sons, has followed in the footsteps of generations of his family to practise the common right of pannage.

Jamie said: ‘I usually turn out around 50 pigs onto the Forest and one of the main reasons I do it is because pannage pork is so popular - the meat tastes great, and we get orders from all over the region.

‘We find the pork to be superior to regular pork because the pigs are out eating acorns and beechnuts, giving it a great, unique taste and texture. Foodies with a real passion for good meat are particular fans of it, and if demand continues to increase we will definitely be looking to expand.’

Pannage pork is available from P.R. Burgess and Sons at Swallowfields Farm in Bramshaw. Contact Jamie Burgess on 07795 082358 for details.

For more information on the The Pig Hotel Group visit www.thepighotel.co.uk.

To find out more about New Forest Marque produce and the benefits of buying locally visit www.newforestmarque.co.uk.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Record 50,000 New Forest Visitors for Green Transport

New Forest Tour Bus
It’s been a record year for green transport in the New Forest after 50,000 visitors and residents switched from cars to buses.

The open-top New Forest Tour and Beach Bus enjoyed their best summers, thanks to new stops and discounts, improved ferry links and the warm weather.

The New Forest Travel Concierge at Brockenhurst rail station also enjoyed a bumper summer, helping more than 4,000 people to enjoy car-free experiences.

The services are run by the New Forest National Park Authority in partnership with operators More bus and Bluestar, as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) funded campaign to encourage more people to travel without a car in the National Park.

The New Forest Tour attracted 41,877 passenger journeys on its three routes during its 11-week season this summer, beating last year’s record of 40,653. This saved around 226,000 private car miles.

The Beach Bus attracted 7,993 passenger journeys during its five week season to Hythe, Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington – a 35% increase from 5,898 passengers in 2013.

The New Forest Travel Concierge gave travel advice to 4,441 visitors and residents, selling 1,445 New Forest Tour tickets and handing out hundreds of car-free leaflets and 1,200 cycling route maps.

The New Forest Tour in particular also provided a boost to local businesses, contributing an estimated £680,000 to the local economy whilst stopping at local villages and attractions such as New Forest Wildlife Park near Ashurst and Ringwood Brewery.

Alex Harrison, Brand Manager at Ringwood Brewery, said: ‘Being part of the New Forest Tour red route has been a real benefit to the brewery, helping to bring in visitors and support the business. We’re delighted that the Tour continues to grow in popularity.’

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operators More bus and Bluestar, said: ‘We’ve had another wonderful summer of good weather which undoubtedly has been part of the success story in the New Forest. The easy access to New Forest attractions and villages, plus close links to Southampton via Hythe Ferry, have all helped attract large passenger numbers.’

The New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and New Forest Travel Concierge are supported in part by a £3.8m sustainable transport fund from the DfT, which is shared with the South Downs National Park. The aim is to encourage 370,000 people to get out of their cars and use greener transport by the end of March 2015.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said:  ‘The New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and Travel Concierge have all played an important role in reducing the impacts of congestion and carbon emissions on the National Park’s landscapes. By encouraging visitors and residents to travel without a car, we can help protect its fragile beauty for future generations.’

For more information on the New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and New Forest Travel Concierge visit www.thenewforesttour.info, www.thebeachbus.info and www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/travel_concierge.