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We are responsible for the long-term stewardship of three UK Rural Estates in Cheshire (Eaton Estate); Lancashire (Abbeystead Estate) and the North-West Highlands of Scotland (Reay Forest Estate). Their unique makeup comprises moorlands, forests, farmland, hay meadows, mountains, rivers and their catchments as well as lochs – for the most part designated areas of outstanding natural beauty. These are also places where homes, farms, warehouses, offices – and the jobs that are attached to them – form a significant portion of the local economy and the source of income that keeps the communities that live there closely knit together.
We see our role as one of enablement and take responsibility within these rural estates for managing their sensitive evolution through an approach which strives to be a leading example of sustainability within the rural economy, contributing to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the communities we are part of.
In 2021, we launched an ambitious Rural Estates’ Strategy to provide the direction for their future management over the next 25 years – three of their key elements are outlined as follows.
Whether improving biodiversity through better farming practices, planting hundreds of thousands of trees or expanding our hay meadows, restoring bare peat on our moorlands, storing and capturing carbon, or re-establishing Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations in our rivers – we believe that success in protecting, restoring and enhancing the environments within these unique locations is key to our continued enjoyment of the world we live in.
Becoming a net zero carbon operation is a key part of our strategy, and the commissioning of carbon solutions company Verco last year has proven an important step in giving us a baseline for our industrial emissions , and is also informing the development of an ambitious carbon reduction plan.
Financial sustainability is the foundation of achieving lasting overall sustainability. We constantly strive to operate more efficiently and to grow the returns of our commercial activities which include the management of one of the UK’s leading dairy and arable farms (Grosvenor Farms) rural property management and other smaller commercial ventures (e.g. renewable energy, holiday cottages for letting). This year, we are also pressing ahead with a new venture – GrosvenorTimberWorks – which manufactures bespoke construction and specialist timber products to the highest standards of sustainability.
People, skills and engagement
The success of our strategy relies on our ability to attract and retain outstanding talent. We promote countryside skills and crafts that are centuries old but are often at risk of being overlooked or even lost, and we pursue innovation, new technologies and the benefits of data analytics. Our success is amplified through shared success, which is why we want to work in partnership and collaboration with our suppliers, policymakers, industry bodies and all those who can help advance our goals.