Inspiring Others To Look To The Land

An inspirational farmer on the Duchy’s Whitewell Estate in Lancashire is taking the countryside into classrooms across the UK.

John Alpe was first introduced to the ‘educational access’ initiative under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in 2000. He now gives around a dozen talks to schools, colleges and groups across the UK each year as well as hosting groups of overseas students at New Laund Farm, a 185-acre steading which sits in a commanding position overlooking the whole of the Whitewell estate, including the River Hodder and the historic Inn at Whitewell.

John believes that those who would not normally have access to farms and open countryside benefit hugely from a clearer understanding of what constitutes farming life. He actively encourages footpaths and open access across his holding and welcomes ramblers and walkers. He has even learned to say the words “Hello” and “Welcome to our farm” in several different languages to put overseas visitors at their ease. In 2012 he installed a wheelchair-friendly access route for ‘Trampers’ (a type of 4-wheeled drive electric buggy) so that disabled groups could visit and enjoy the spectacular scenery across Whitewell and the Trough of Bowland.

Commenting on the range of educational activities John has been involved in over the years, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “John’s experience of farming and his enthusiasm for this way of life is an absolute inspiration. We are indebted to John for investing so much time and effort promoting life on the land and for demonstrating so clearly the benefits that a career in farming can offer to many who may never have considered it as a possible option before.”

In addition to his ‘teaching’ role, John manages three farms on the Whitwell Estate and runs a herd of 80 dairy cows and a flock of around 1,000 sheep. A keen advocate of organic farming, which avoids the use of pesticides, artificial fertilisers and unnecessary antibiotics, he supplies milk to the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative.

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Duchy of Lancaster Annual Report and Accounts for Year Ended 31st March 2018

The Duchy of Lancaster has today published its financial results for the year ended March 31st 2018.

During the year:

• Net surplus increased by 4.9 % to £20.2m
• Net asset value increased by 2.9 % to £533.8m.

Nathan Thompson, CEO and Clerk of the Duchy Council, said: “This has been another positive year for the Duchy with strong growth in almost all of our business sectors. The continued push on restoration and a more focussed in-house approach to the management of our Surveys has served us well this year and contributed significantly to further improving tenant relations, reducing voids and increasing efficiency.

“I would like to thank all members of the Duchy team and our tenant partners for their positive contributions over the past 12 months.”

The Duchy of Lancaster is a historic portfolio of land and assets held in trust for the reigning Sovereign. It provides the Monarch with a source of income that is independent of Government and the public purse. The Duchy is self-financing and does not receive any public funds in connection with its activities.

To view/download a copy of the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2018, please visit the Financial Reporting page on our website (

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Ground-Breaking Technology At Marsden Gate

A new green energy plant at Marsden Gate Industrial Park is leading the way in providing a new clean and sustainable energy source for household and commercial use.

A unique two-stage conversion process developed by Advanced Plasma Power (APP) converts household waste into BioSNG (bio-substitute natural gas). The net result is a clean, modular and scalable advanced waste-to-energy fuel which delivers high efficiencies and minimises the environmental impact of waste recycling.

After a series of small-scale trials last year, the new plant received a prestigious national award from the UK Energy Institute for its ‘game-changing technology’.

Commenting on the project, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “This is a very exciting project and one which the Duchy is pleased to support. The removal of household waste from landfill and the production of new green energy can only help the environment and provide the UK with a more sustainable fuel source. We congratulate the team on their work to date and look forward with interest to seeing the next phase of development as the plant moves toward full commissioning.”

Rolf Stein, CEO of Advanced Plasma Power, added: “We are delighted that the trials have gone so well and to see our efforts recognised by the Energy Institute and our peers. We are working very hard to complete the project as this could make a meaningful and cost-effective contribution towards the decarbonisation of heat and transport not only in the UK but worldwide.”

Once fully commissioned, the new plant will have the capacity to convert 10,000 tonnes of local landfill waste into 22GWh of clean, green energy (BioSNG). This will produce sufficient biofuel to power 40 distribution vehicles, cutting a commercial fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.

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Ladies Day At The Duchy

The Duchy of Lancaster is celebrating its own Ladies Day this year with the announcement that three new appointments have been made to its inhouse team of Rural Surveyors.

Senior Asset Manager Naomi Browne joins the Duchy from Savills where she has been looking after the Staffordshire Survey for the past five years. Naomi will continue in this role as the Duchy brings the management of the Staffordshire estates inhouse and appoints Property Manager for the South of England Jonathan Sellick as Managing Director of the Staffordshire Survey.

Property Manager Rebecca Oddy also joins the Duchy this month as part of the North of England team led by Surveyor of Lands for the North, Andrew Johnson. Rebecca, who has spent the last three years as part of the land management team at Strutt & Parker, will assist Andrew on the 6,605-hectare Yorkshire Survey which includes estates in Cloughton, Pickering, Goathland and Pontefract.

Chartered Surveyor Laura Airton, currently an Associate with Fisher German, will also join the Northern team at the beginning of September. Working with Andrew Johnson, Laura will help to look after the Lancashire Survey which includes 20 main agricultural holdings, 66 commercial lettings and around 50 residential properties across four estates: Myerscough, Salwick, Whitewell and Wyreside.

Commenting on the new appointments, the Duchy’s Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “We are delighted to welcome Naomi, Rebecca and Laura to the team. It is really important to us that we have the right people working in our rural teams and we are very keen to encourage and nurture exciting new talent. The mix of skills and experience they bring to the team, together with their energy and enthusiasm for the delivery of our business plan, will add significant value to us as we continue to take the business forward.”

The Duchy now manages its Southern, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire Surveys in house. The management of the Cheshire Survey remains with Savills.

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