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Wentworth Woodhouse features in new report highlighting UK heritage bodies’ pioneering response to climate change

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The restoration, renovation and repair of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham is featured in Heritage Responds, a new report released to coincide with the COP 26 Summit.

The report brings together the expertise of 26 of the country’s leading heritage organisations – including English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust – ahead of COP26 in Glasgow to highlight examples of how through revolutionary research, carbon reduction and maximising the potential of the historic environment, the heritage sector is making a major contribution to the response to climate change.

Rob Woodside, Chair of the Historic Environment Forum’s COP26 Task Group and English Heritage Estates Director said: “Heritage organisations are pioneering the sector’s response to climate change. Ahead of COP26, we wanted to share our experience of our sustainable response to the greatest challenge of our time. The case studies we have highlighted show not only how heritage organisations are responding to the impact of climate change, but also how we can be part of the solution.

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“What Heritage Responds clearly demonstrates is the proactive work of so many organisations across the heritage sector to find solutions – leading on ground- breaking research, innovating on approaches to adaptation, harnessing the use of technology, retro-fitting historic buildings and reducing carbon emissions by retaining and reusing existing buildings. We are working across sectors to bring approaches to nature and culture closer together to help manage the green lungs in our cities and adapt to new environmental challenges. We’re also forging new skills to help maintain and adapt historic buildings. This isn’t about protecting the past but using heritage to find solutions for the future.”

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) took on the regeneration of the site to achieve positive environmental, economic and social impact in Rotherham and South Yorkshire.

Repairs are being carried out to the highest conservation standards to give the buildings a new 21st century purpose and a number of adaptations have been made to combat the effects of climate change and seek sustainable energy solutions:

  • Original slates from the roof have been recycled and reused where appropriate, those that can no longer be used for roofing have been repurposed .
  • Breathable insulation has been installed in the roofs to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining a traditional breathable construction.
  • A re-design of the roof layout to cope with climate change has been critical – large reservoirs have been introduced to catch rainfall and manage water flow to the hoppers so that water is captured.
  • Enabling works have been carried out so that a ground source heat pump system can be introduced to the mansion as soon as funding is sourced. Renewable ground source heating systems are also planned for the Stables and Camellia House. The first is expected to be commissioned in 2022.
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks have been included in the new design.
  • Biodiversity on the site is being tracked and measured.
  • Heritage Skills training has taken place throughout the programme and is continuing. 
  • Of the 49 new jobs created on site since the Trust took ownership, 93% live within the local area and 95% of the capital expenditure to date has been with local companies within a 35- mile radius of Wentworth

Historic England’s Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson said: “These case studies illustrate that the historic environment is a powerful catalyst for tackling the dual challenges of climate change – the need to deliver the transition to net zero and to adapt to a new climate.  Our heritage is threatened by a changing climate with increasingly warmer, wetter winters, hotter, drier summers and rising sea levels.  This report highlights inspiring solutions to help communities protect our historic places from these threats and drive down carbon emissions.”

Images: WWPT

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Tom Austen
Tom grew up in Aston, Rotherham and studied Human Geography at Nottingham Trent University before developing a passion for promoting Rotherham and a nose for a good story.

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