Environmental Responsibility & Sustainability
We strongly believe in doing our bit to improve the environment and reduce our contribution to global warming. We have strived where possible and practical to use technologies that support these principles. We also aim to run the business and the grounds at Puddleduck Valley so that we can improve the habitat for both flora and fauna. This page describes the technologies and methods we employed (and will employ) to meet our aspirations.
We are close to achieving carbon neutral status with all of our heating and electricity coming from green sources. We are targeting waste and our transport next. We also plant new trees every year.
Good EnergyGood Energy is a British company that supplies energy that only comes from renewable energy sources. We use good energy on the basis that we don't want our energy to come from power stations that belch CO2 and other pollutants. Wind turbines, hydro power and solar photovoltaic production must be a good thing if located at a site that isn't itself detrimental to the environment or nearby residents. Good Energy is also competitive on its energy prices. Take a look at their website here if you would like to know more.
Biomass BoilerWe have installed a biomass (log) boiler that produces all of our hot water and heating. Although producing CO2, biomass as a fuel is regarded as zero carbon technology as the trees that we use have to absorb the CO2 beforehand. Ours runs at between 95% and 98% efficiency and produces a tiny amount of ash. We use willow, hazel and other species of wood from our site that are carefully managed to provide an ongoing supply. In addition we use waste wood from a nearby wood mill.
Electric vehicle charge pointA Polar 7Kw electric vehicle charging point has been installed at Puddleduck Valley. If you use an electric or hybrid electric car to get to us and to tour the area, you can plug in and charge. Fees for charges are calculated using ZapMap's home charging calculator here. Please note that you will need to bring your own leads.
LED lightingWe use 16 LED down lights to illuminate paths. These are energy efficient and limit light pollution to the sky above.
Recycled concrete in our car parksNot very exciting, but an easy way of reducing waste at landfill is the recycling of hardcore and concrete. We have had both of our car parks recovered with this seemingly inexhaustible supply from a local supplier (also reducing the distance it took to deliver)
Hazel coppicingSome of the land in the valley is old hazel coppice. Coppicing is the ancient process of pruning back the multiple trunks of a hazel tree/bush every 5 to 7 years to around 8 to 12 inches high. This keeps the tree healthy and lets the light into to the woodland to allow other plant life to grow. This in turn also improves the land for invertebrates and life further up the food chain. Of course it also provides us with raw materials for hazel stakes, poles and pea sticks.
Willow spilingOne of the problems we suffer from is erosion of the stream banks in the valley. When we have had many hours of heavy rain the level of the stream can rise quickly. The volume of water erodes the banks of the river that are composed of clay and loose stone. Neither of these materials are very resistant to the constant force of the water. Two of the methods we looked to employ to reduce erosion is willow spiling and willow laying. Willow spiling is the process of planting living willow to protect the bank. We have also used willow laying to reinforce some of the banks but have recently stopped this practice after advice from ecologists who warned that too much river bank protection could adversely affect the river water velocity and change the habitat.
Pigs as ground clearanceWhen we first bought Cookbury Court a lot of the grazing on the slope was heavy tangle of bramble and nettles. To clear the land we used the ancient method of letting pigs do the work for us. The pigs spent around six months on the paddock and by rooting up all the tough weeds (and fertilising as they went) they created a fantastic medium for us to grow our new pasture grass.
Short Rotation Coppice WillowIntended as a long term investment to provide us with wood for our log boiler, we have planted over 800 fast growing willow. As with the hazel, the willow is cut every 3 to 5 years. Unfortunately the deer also seem to like our willow. This means that we have seen poor growth this year due to the nibbling and the likelihood that we will need to fence the willow to keep Bambi and his friends off them!
Offset your carbonHow do you fancy offsetting the carbon you generate on your drive to and from Puddleduck Valley? Now you can. Here's a link where you can calculate the amount of carbon you would generate and then contribute to World Land Trust restoration ecology projects Here
We purchased Cookbury Court in 2012 to set up Puddleduck Valley so that we could provide a place where families can enjoy a great holiday; promote outdoor play for children and spark an interest in learning about the environment.
We selected the site for its natural beauty, a great location for our business, and the site’s potential for environmental improvement.
It is our belief that we can provide great holidays at a low environmental cost and get children playing outdoors as we did in our childhood. We believe that it’s the responsibility of every individual to make an effort to improve.
We have already put lots of measures and technologies in place to reduce environmental impact and to improve biodiversity. Indeed we also have a suite of plans for future changes to further improve and to carefully manage the local environment for which we have become stewards.
While setting up the business we have used reclaimed and salvaged materials where possible including recycled concrete for the car parks, second hand furniture and even re-purposed old air compressors as fire pits! We have installed a biomass boiler to create all of the heating and hot water for the site, planted over 800 willow saplings to provide future fuel and ensured our reliance on fossil fuels is minimised by only using 100% renewable electricity.
Recycling and composting facilities are provided for our guests and there are a range of activities onsite to engage children (and adults) in outdoor play and to discover more about the natural world that surrounds us. Not many guests leave without learning something new!
We are developing partnerships with other organisations to learn more about how to manage areas of neglected woodland, encourage native flora and to provide an improved habitat for a wider range of species. We aim to balance land use to create varied habitats suitable for grazing, short rotation coppice, wildlife, woodland regeneration, guest accommodation and activities. Plans for implementing a program of willow spiling will ensure a reduction in river bank erosion while rotation cropping of existing hazel stools will allow sunlight to the forest floor to encourage an understory of other species.
We have implemented a compost toilet on site to reduce water usage and green technology such as solar path lighting to reduce energy usage.
We endeavour to use local suppliers, contractors and materials where we can we also commonly purchase second hand furniture and other items for renovation and use by us and guests.
Lastly we have implemented a change in our promotion plans use only recycled stationary for our promotional material.
We fully accept that we cannot be perfect so we commit to an ongoing program of monitoring and improvement.
Our Green Action Plan
The list below identifies the actions that we have put in place to ensure that we are as sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible.
We're starting with the low cost easy to do stuff first:
|Visitor payback schemes||We have set up a VPS with an optional £1 charge on direct bookings on our new payment engine.. Guests have the option to donate to Railway Children and/or British Butterfly Conservation schemes to further their work.|
|Monitor travel||Start keeping a mileage diary for both cars for business use.|
|Water flow through taps||We have investigated all tap flow rates on site and added flow restriction and aeration devices where required|
|Water flow through showers|
We have investigated all tap flow rates on site and added flow restriction and aeration devices where required. All our showers now have shower heads that aerate and reduce flow.
|Chlorine free cleaning materials||We have replaced all of our chlorine based cleaners with environmentally friendly cleaning materials|
|Natural based surface cleaners||We have replaced all of current surface cleaners with environmentally friendly cleaners|
|Kitchen waste composting||We now have a policy of separating kitchen waste for anaerobic digestion rather than landfill.|
|Compactor||We have set up a compactor for us and guests to use to increase the weight/volume ratio of recyclables.|
|Phosphate free soaps and detergents||We have replaced all soaps and detergents with phosphate free and implement bulk dispensers in guest bathrooms to ensure 'green' soaps and washing liquids are always available|
|Performance Information||We have started monitoring of:
|Bag it and bin it||We have implemented a bag it and bin it policy and signage in each of our holiday lets to encourage guest not to flush nasties such as fabrics, sanitary pads and cleaning cloths.|
|Information on public transport||We will include details of public transport to and from us on our website and in house guest information booklet|
|Monitor waste & Recycling||Start Monitoring of:
|Green laundry practice (set up our own green laundry)||We have set up our own laundry.
The laundry uses recommended A+ machines or above, the grey water is recycled and the laundry will be insulated to achieve higher temperatures for drying.
|Bug Hotels||When coppicing the woodland we now always set up a pile of logs to encourage invertebrate life.|
|Insulation survey||We have undertaken a survey of the main house with recommendations to insulate under the floor!|
|Fat Traps||We have added a fat trap to every kitchen on site and encourage guests to tip waste oils and fat into it instead of the drainage. This way we can improve our sewerage and septic tank and feed the birds.|
|Business Stationary & Marketing Materials||All stationary is now 100% recycled product|
|Toilet Roll||All the toilet roll used on site is from 100% recycled paper.|
|Education on sustainability||We have added a section on sustainability into the guest information booklet.|
|Community work on local environment||We now take part in a regular beach clean at the beaches between Bude and Duckpool. The latest beach clean collected over 4 tonnes of plastics! As we are keen kayakers we now also clean the beaches that can't be reached on foot.
|Use of Green Tourism brand in on-site promotion||We have added the Green Tourism logo and branding to our website and Facebook page as soon as we get our classification.|
|Use of Green Tourismbrand in off-site promotion||We will add the Green Tourism logo and branding to our business stationary and physical promotion literature.|
|Rainwater and greywater-harvesting||We now use grey water harvesting for crops. We investigated rainwater harvesting for livestock but found that the risks of introducing pathogens from wild birds to our stock is too high.|
|Dog waste eco-treatment||
We have considered three options and require feedback on the best method.
We will be welcoming guests with dogs from March 2017 so will be implementing dog waste bins and provide compostable poo bags.
|Local Craft Products||We now promote local handicrafts and kits in our mini shop.|
We will set up a nature diary blackboard for us and guests to record the species of flora & fauna they seen on site. The results will be reported to our local wildlife group
|Joint Marketing with other GTBS members||Investigate the location of other GTBS members and see if there is some form of cross promotion we can do.|
|Grey water irrigation systems||We have implemented a grey water system for our veggie plot by utilising grey water from the new laundry.|
|Solar hot water heating||Going forward we will implement solar hot water panels for the future barn conversion to a B&B. This has been investigated and found to be uneconomic at present due to the direction our roofs face, We will re-visit this in coming years.|
|Drying Rails||Rather than using tumble driers for drying in the laundry we also use two electric drying racks to dry laundry. This is much more energy efficient.|
|SSSI improvement plan - Forestry Commission & National Trust||We are working closely with the Forestry Commission & National Trust who jointly manage the Dunsland Park SSSI. We are investigating the feasibility of a plan to use our goat herd to remove the underbrush from the SSSI to improve airflow to the lichens in the upper storey of the tree canopy. We are awaiting a decision by the Forestry Commission ecologists for go-ahead.|
|Plant & Tree Labelling||During the winter of 2016/2017 we have started labelling of trees shrubs and perennial plants. We hope this will further enhance guest visits and knowledge of the local flora. To do this we are reutilising old roof slates.|
|River bank Spiling||Following advice from ecologists we have cancelled our plans for river bank spiling. We have been advised that the spiling could cause unintended bank erosion in other areas and increase water velocity resulting in a change of habitat.|
|Bats - Do not disturb!||One of our guest uints has an external (insulated) hut that houses an immersion tank. We have found that this has become a haven for solitary bats. To protect against intrusion we now lock this hut so that guests don't inadvertently disturb the bats.|
|Plants for pollinators||We have planted a bee and butterfly garden in our private garden with plants that cover the full flowering season so as to provide an ongoing source of nectar. In addition we now specifically select wildflower and pollinator friendly perennial and annual flowers for guest accommodations gardens.|
|Grow your own||A small gesture but we have planted 6 fruit trees to grow our own apples and pears. Just a small reduction in the miles from farm to fork.|
|Alternatives to driving||We've worked with the National Trust to set up a path allowing guests pedestrian access to N.T. Dunsland. This means that guests can now walk to the local pub & restaurant rather than taking the car.||Buying Recycled||A great discovery - We recently discovered Solway Recycling, a company that makes livestock field shelters from recycled plastic. We bought one and are over the moon. It's sturdy, resilient, weather proof and more than up to the job of housing two string boy goats.||Improvements to the wood stores||After much effort we've finally finished two shiny new wood stores. These stores allow us to dry wood more effectively than our old method make it more efficient when the wood is burned to create hot water in the biomass boiler.|