West Pitt Farm and the Environment
Our approach at West Pitt is to minimise our impact on the environment while offering high-quality, comfortable accommodation in Devon’s glorious countryside.
In 2003 our sixty acres were enrolled in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Under this program we have re-planted an orchard with traditional local apple varieties; restored and replanted nearly 2kms of field boundaries with over 7,000 native hedge plants; opened a permissive footpath creating a circular walk that includes an ancient green lane and panoramic views over the Culm Valley toward Dartmoor and the coast.
We maintain nearly twenty acres as species rich grassland with rare sedges, native orchids and other wetland plants. Our other fields have six metre margins to encourage native arable plants and we carefully manage our hedges to maximise their value as habitat. The results have been dramatic, particularly for the birdlife. Kingfishers are regularly seen at the ponds, skylarks call from high above, buzzards and other hawks patrol almost year round. Deer visit regularly and all manner of small mammals are abundant.
We have a continuous program of improving the existing cottages. Improved insulation, draught proofing and the best available heating controls have allowed us to reduce heating fuel use by 40% so far. Efficient wood-burners burn logs from our own hedges and ensure cosy winters by the fire while helping to further reduce fuel use.
Our new cottages are insulated and equipped to Carbon Lite standards, far in advance of current building regulations. With its heat pump and solar panels, Willow Tree is now beating the Carbon Lite annual benchmarks.
All our water comes from our own borehole and wastewater is treated and returned to the ground via soak-aways.
Our biggest project to date is the installation of two 11kw Gaia wind turbines on the hilltop about 500 yards from the cottages. An energy management system monitors the output and uses surplus energy to heat our indoor swimming pool water. When it is a windy day the swimming pool heats to 90 degrees c and when it is not so windy, the backup system keeps the pool above 84 degrees c, keeping it at a perfect temperature every day. West Pitt Farm has the first system like this anywhere in the UK. The turbines save about 35 tons of CO2 emissions per year, that is about the same as an average car would emit over 15 years!