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National Trust in multimillion pound renewables deal

The National Trust has signed up to a multimillion pound deal to power its properties with a range of alternative energy sources but will eschew wind turbines.

The charity will spend up to £35m on switching to wood-fuelled boilers, water turbines and other low-carbon energy sources.

But Sir Simon Jenkins, the National Trust’s chairman, is an outspoken critic of wind turbines and has been said to have a “fundamental, personal, aesthetic objection” to them.

Patrick Begg, the charity’s rural enterprises director, insisted “absolutely, categorically” that this opposition played no part in the decision to omit wind turbines from the plan however.

The trust already uses several small wind turbines at some of its properties but Mr Begg said there would be no expansion of them on the charity’s sites as it had chosen energy forms that were in harmony with “landscape sensitivities” and environmental conditions.

Under the deal struck with the renewable energy firm Good Energy, the charity will receive a payment of £40 a year for each customer it signs up.

The sum will help fund the five pilot projects in which it is investing this year, which will cost it some £3.5m, the Financial Times reported.

If successful, the scheme will be rolled out across another 38 properties, costing up to 10 times the original price.

By 2020 the charity hopes that half its power will be generated by renewable energy sources.

Under the pilot scheme, biomass or woodchip-fuelled boilers will be installed at Croft Castle in Hertfordshire and at Ickworth House in Suffolk.

Hydro-power turbines will be used at the trust’s Craflwyn properties in north Wales and the Lake District.

Last month Sir Simon said the trust was increasingly finding itself fighting wind farm applications.

He said: “There’s clearly a major battle taking place almost everywhere on wind

farms. Wind turbines are very intrusive forms of renewable energy.”

But the trust was not opposed to renewable energy or wind turbines “in the right place”, he added.