Our Commitment to Sustainability: Our journey so far
At Bluestone we are always striving towards perfection. We are proud of what we have done so far but that's not to say there isn't plenty more to do. This is as true for our efforts in the sphere of sustainability and the environment as it is for any other aspect of what we do.
We see sustainability as a journey that should be factored into every decision. We've come a long way, but to ensure that we do nothing today which our children will have to pay the price for tomorrow, our journey continues!
In the beginning....
Despite being within a national park, the Bluestone site has not always been blessed with a rich biodiversity. Indeed, before the resort was built, the area had been intensively farmed for many years. On the plus side, this meant we had a great opportunity to improve and enhance habitats, and encourage wildlife and flora back into the area.
We also bought the area of Planted Ancient Woodland (PAW) next to the site; an area of ancient woodland that was planted with nurseries of fir and other commercial wood crops for harvesting at a later date. By buying this woodland, we were able to protect the whole area from clearance that had been planned by the Forestry Commission for 2003.
In just over a decade we've rehabilitated habitats, built new ones, and attracted a diverse range of flora and fauna back to the area. We've planted more trees than you can shake a stick at and worked hard to preserve the areas of protected ancient woodland. We've gradually developed and honed our resource efficiency processes, and succeeded in reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill, which is now less than 1%.
The Future: Greener, Cleaner, Better
We've formed a team of committed people to take forward our vision of a Free Range Future, and they're working on various projects and strategies as we speak. But we believe that the best ideas often come from casting the net as wide as possible. Many guests suggestions have found their way into our operational procedures; we're always quizzing our suppliers and contractors to see what suggestions they have and our staff have formed a group called 'Team Planet', to ensure interdepartmental collaboration on sustainable practices are continuously improved. So, if you have any ideas on how we can improve the way we are doing things, please get in touch.
Commitment to a Free Range Future: The journey so far
Take a closer look at what we've been up to for the last 12 years, and some of the key milestones we've passed on the way:
Bluestone opens for the first time. Right from the start, we were trying to lighten our environmental footsteps, and here are some of the ways we sought to do that:
- Biomass-fuelled energy centre. The feed crop is grown on local farms, so the scheme also helps support the farming community and employment opportunities in Pembrokeshire.
- Solar panels to provide hot water for 100 lodges
- A car-free resort. Instead guests use electric buggies to travel around. Safer for humans and wildlife. Less pollution, less noise, and less disturbance to the wildlife with whom we share the resort.
- Energy reduction targets incorporated into every manager’s performance indicators.
- A range of energy-saving initiatives and joint projects with Envirowise to reduce incoming packaging.
After just a year of opening, Bluestone has already planted 200,000 additional trees and plants and developed land to encourage and attract a much wider variety of flora and fauna.
Bluestone presented with the Wales Environment Award at the Business in the Community 2010 awards, for reducing the impact on the environment.
- A new partnership is established with The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. The Trust and Bluestone worked together previously, but the new partnership marked the start of a new chapter in which the Trust undertook a range of projects aimed at helping deepen Bluestone guests’ understanding of the natural environment. On a visit to Bluestone to launch the partnership, Welsh naturalist Iolo Williams saw first-hand how the careful transformation of ecologically-poor farmland into Wales’ only national park resort has enabled wildlife to thrive.
- In a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, Bluestone is proclaimed an ‘Example of Excellence' in the ‘Supporting Rural Communities’ category of the Business in the Community UK Awards
- A new Diamond Wood - one of only two in Wales - is planted at Bluestone in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Over 120 people join broadcaster and wildlife expert Iolo Williams to help plant some of the 35,000 native trees at Bluestone to create an additional natural woodland habitat within the 500-acre resort. The new wood will join two historical woodlands, Canaston and Minwear, for the first time in centuries, creating an important habitat for wildlife in the area.
- Bluestone wins the Community and Environmental Action Award, given by the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), at its Wales and South West finals.
- Bluestone wins the Resource Management category of the BCE Environmental Leadership Awards.
- Bluestone achieves Level 5 of the Green Dragon Environmental Management Standard.
- Bluestone is shortlisted in the 'Environmental' category of the Institute of Welsh Affairs-Western Mail Business Awards.
- Bluestone works with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and nine local primary schools on ‘Flutter & Buzz’ - a project aimed at promoting the importance of creating and maintaining wildflower meadows in school grounds and elsewhere in the county.
- After learning about biodiversity and planting wildflowers in their own schools, the pupils, aged 7 to 11, came to Bluestone to plant 20 species of perennial wildflowers, including birdsfoot, trefoil, ox-eye daisy and ladies bedstraw.
- Bluestone is named ‘New Energy Champion’ in the New Energy and Cleantech awards
- In what is believed to be one of the first initiatives of its kind in the UK, Bluestone staff receive training from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to raise their awareness of the Park’s special qualities and increase their ability to pass key National Park information to Bluestone guests.
- Staff who completed the training plus a follow-on module were awarded a specially-produced badge reading ‘Ask me – I’m ParkWise’
- Bluestone team up with Milford Haven Port Authority and Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services to reward people who carry out voluntary work in the local community.
- Our new ‘Phase 3’ lodges welcome their first guests. The 60 lodges are on a district biomass heating system, with all feedstock produced within 30 miles of Bluestone. According to UK Government figures, the CO²e emissions from a unit of biomass energy are a fraction - 7% to 8% - of those from a unit of grid electricity or mains gas, so the new lodges are not just comfortable and stylish, but eco-friendly too.
- A new 350-metre shared-use path between Canaston Woods and Bluestone National Park Resort is opened. This new path allows everyone to explore this area of Canaston Woods safely, and provide a designated route directly to Bluestone
- Furthering our aim of sending as little to landfill as possible, Bluestone's general waste starts going to an Energy from Waste (EfW) plant, where it is burnt to generate electricity.
- The Bluestone Apiary is set up in partnership with Paul Eades to produce Bluestone Honey. It currently has three hives, each of which has approximately 50,000 bees at the height of the season. The bees are intended to increase the pollination of wildflower species and to enhance engagement opportunities with guests around environmental and biodiversity issues. They produce delicious honey, which you can buy in our village shop.
- Toad Patrol is set up during the annual breeding season. The scheme aims to reduce toad casualties on roads near the lake, with guests encouraged to join in.
- New bug hotels are built and placed around the resort to provide new habitats for insects.
- Free electric car-chargers are installed in the Bluestone car park.
- Serendome open! Rain is harvested from the roof of the dome, and our other major buildings, and re-directed to our attenuation pond. After UV treatment, it is used for watering the hundreds of trees and plants within the dome and others across the resort.
- A new Head of Corporate Responsibility is recruited: Marten Lewis, who worked with Bluestone through the Darwin Centre. He joined the Bluestone Foundation Steering Group in 2010 helping to oversee the introduction of the Community Fund which has gifted over £140,000 to Pembrokeshire causes since 2013.
- A staff awareness campaign is launched to reduce recyclable waste being put in black bags. The training was successful in reducing the volume of general waste by 10 tonnes per month.
- A group of hedgehogs from the Pembrokeshire Hogspital are brought to their new home on a ten-acre release site that has been specially prepared for them. Ranger Rob designed and made three hedgehog huts that make warm and safe environments for the hedgehogs when they are ready to be released back into the wild.
- A new otter holt is installed on the Penglyn brook, with the help of PCNP rangers. As a result, otters are spotted for the first time in the area for many years.
- Bluestone starts sending restaurant food waste is sent for anaerobic digestion at Asguard Renewables in Cardigan. The process creates methane which is used to generate electricity for the National Grid and wet waste (slurry) which is used by local farmers to inject into the soil as fertiliser. In one year alone, over 70 tonnes of food waste was diverted from EfW.
- A new grain dispenser is fitted by the lake, so guests can feed the ducks with a handful of local barley, rather than bread, which can be harmful to them. The initiative is part of a nationwide campaign to stop feeding ducks bread, called Breaducation.
- Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, holds a workshop at Bluestone National Park Resort to share best practices and ideas to help shape the Future Generations Report for 2020.
- The food recycling scheme is extended to guest accommodation. Guests are asked to deposit their food waste in a purpose-made brown bag so it can be sent for anaerobic digestion, along with the waste from our restaurants.
- Bluestone is rewarded with the international Green Key award in recognition of its environmental standards. Green Key is the fastest-growing eco-label for the tourism industry and extends over 65 countries.
Did you know?
That's just a tiny overview of what we've been doing at the resort and there's much more going on at all times of the year. Here are just a few things that might surprise you about Bluestone!
1. Sixty per cent of Bluestone’s woods are classified as Plantation on Ancient Woodland site with 18% regarded as Ancient Semi- Natural Woodland. To ensure this is properly maintained, we have a dedicated woodland management plan.
2. There are several badger setts around the resort. Many have cameras set up so we can monitor the different groups, and we often come into work to see footage of badgers playing in the woods overnight.
3. To encourage the local bat population, we’ve introduced measures to encourage insects for food. These include the maintenance of rough pasture, hay meadow habitat, woodlands, the Diamond wood plantation, hedgerows, other linear features, and open water.
4. As part of our ongoing nest project, we have installed more boxes to encourage Tawny and Little Owls. Camera traps are put in place to monitor their activity. We already have a pair of Barn Owls living at Bluestone and we have recently seen owlets from one of our boxes.
5. We are still planting more trees! Over the last decade, we've planted close to one million plants and trees, installing hibernacula, refugia, and log/rock piles in several areas of the resort in an effort to increase suitable habitat.
Find out about some of the work we've been doing at Bluestone.