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Muncaster Aims to Become First Carbon-Zero Castle with Help from Cumbria LEP

Written by on 17/02/2024

An ‘Innovating for Success’ grant of £19,500 from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership is helping the owners of Muncaster Castle achieve their ambition to become the UK’s first carbon-zero castle.

It is Ewan Frost-Pennington, as Operation Director, aim to make his 800 year old family home and 800-hectare estate a sustainable enterprise. An important part of that is reducing the castle’s carbon footprint by increasing the percentage of energy use that is zero carbon; it is currently 60%.

Open as an attraction, and bringing in 60,000 people a year, the priority has been finding ways to sustainably heat castle rooms that are open to the public, develop the catering offer and provide hot water in the toilets.

The Cumbria LEP grant helped deliver the latest phase of the works by providing £19,500 of grant towards the total project cost of £60,180. Batteries have been installed to capture excess power from the solar panels, a smart, electric commercial oven has been purchased and the ground source heat pumps are now heating water.

Ewan Frost-Pennington says it is thanks to the castle’s plumber, Kevin Blain, that this part of their sustainability project has been so successful. Travelling from Wigton, Kevin has 25 years of experience of working on the castle’s plumping and heating systems and knows every nook and cranny of the castle, as Ewan explained:

“Kevin has been quick to come on board with the new technology. Thanks to his skills, and our learning from a network of experts, our heat pump system warms three quarters of the castle and provides warm water for visitors.

“As well as energy efficiency gains, the historic fabric of the castle is protected and we can now open during the winter,” added Ewan.

Ewan says the Cumbria LEP grant has allowed them to push the boundaries of innovation and upskilling within the low carbon sector. He said: “Without this funding we would have not had the confidence to take the risks that we have. The results have facilitated a better overall system and team members, who are upskilled, and excited to continue developing other low carbon projects in Cumbria.”

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of the Cumbria LEP, said: “It is great to see what a difference the Innovating for Success grant programme is having at Muncaster Castle in support of their ambitions. We launched Innovating for Success to encourage small and medium sized businesses across Cumbria to invest in either innovating or decarbonising their business.

“We are delighted that Ewan and the Muncaster team have been able to deliver cutting edge innovation and decarbonisation in a beautiful, heritage environment. I hope that this encourages other businesses that everything is possible.”

The LEP’s ‘Innovating for Success’ grant, was launched in September 2022. It has resulted in dozens of businesses being awarded a share of a £1million grant to either support innovation or cut carbon emissions. Grants were split into two areas:

  • Innovation: Maximum grants of up to £50,000 to part fund initiatives that turn new ideas into commercially viable and deliverable propositions.
  • Carbon reduction: Maximum grants of up to £20,000 to part fund practical projects that will help businesses reduce energy usage or increase renewable energy production.

Independent economic assessment by the LEP has confirmed that over a 10-year period, the Innovating for Success investments will deliver an additional £37million of economic growth, create an additional 97 full time equivalent jobs and save over 4,160 tonnes of CO2.

For more information about CLEP’s grants and support for businesses visit https://www.thecumbrialep.co.uk/