Millions of visitors to benefit from low-carbon heating technology in North York Moors

Great Fryup Dale

Home to a diverse mix of forests, leafy glades, winding rivers, and shoreline rockpools, the North York Moors National Park is a luscious landscape attracting over 8 million visitors annually.

Among other things, North York Moors is a European Protection Area for merlin and golden plover and is internationally renowned for its nesting birds. It also contains one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in England and Wales, covering an area of 44,000 hectares. 

It is also home to more than 23,000 residents who contribute to the culture, economy, and upkeep of the North York Moors.   

The National Park Authority works closely with communities to support the sustainable management of moorland. And to ensure it retains an abundance of species and habitats, the authority has placed climate change and nature recovery at the forefront of its vision for growth.

Sutton Bank

Photo credit: Oliver Sherratt

To support the authority’s aspirational net zero 2040 goal, it undertook a project aimed at decarbonising their Sutton Bank and Danby Lodge National Park Centres. To support this, they were awarded £489,284 in funding under Phase 3a of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. 

Funding is delivered by Salix on behalf of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Salix programme coordinator Caterina Bartelloni said: “This project is a fantastic example of a historical site that has managed to introduce low carbon technologies that both respect and support its landscape. 

“It has been fantastic to witness the change for both visitors and staff through this upgrade. The North York Moors National Park is committed to reducing its carbon emissions and ensures that the local community is both involved in and empowered by its work.”

At Salix, we’re always thrilled to learn about how different organisations are tackling their net zero ambitions. We feel privileged to work with the North York Moors National Park and are delighted to showcase its work here.

A warm, low-carbon welcome for visitors

Built in 1996, Sutton Bank National Park Centre houses meeting rooms, public displays, and a retail and café area. It is located just 30 miles north of York and is frequented by locals and tourists alike.

The National Park Authority used the Government funding to replace the site’s carbon-emitting kerosene boiler with an air source heat pump. 

Heat pumps are a low-emission alternative to traditional, gas-based heating systems given the way in which they generate warmth through heat transfer, rather than combustion. To improve insulation, the project also upgraded old windows and glass doors with energy-efficient double glazing with metal/plastic frames – a process that is estimated to reduce heat loss by 35%.

The Sutton Bank project is saving an estimated 42 tonnes of carbon annually and will create a more comfortable environment for those using the site

Head of climate change and carbon reduction at the North York Moors National Park Authority Tom Stephenson said: “The glazing and fabric improvements are key as they make a significant difference to the atmosphere in the building. 

“It creates a more comfortable working and living environment for everyone that passes through its doors.”

Sutton Bank cycling

Photo credit: Dependable Productions

Danby Lodge National Park Centre

Located on the outskirts of the village of Danby, Danby Lodge National Park Centre is nestled in the heart of North York Moors National Park, along the banks of the River Esk. 

Like Sutton Bank, the windows at Danby Lodge have been replaced with modern energy-efficient units in the form of double glazing and metal frames, while a ground source heat pump will take the place of the old fossil fuel-run boiler. 

Tom says these upgrades are expected to improve the visitor experience by providing a more comfortable environment.

The upgrades for this portion of the project focused on heating the ground floor of the lodge which houses the ‘Inspired by…’ art gallery. This is a contemporary space that hosts regularly changing exhibitions from artists inspired by the North York Moors. 

Previous exhibitions have included the works of Cleveland Fibre Arts, many of whom have historical connections to Moors’ coastal villages, with pieces that capture the vitality of the landscape, vary from spinning, to basketwork, knitting, ceramics, and paint. 

Tom added: “We have the technologies that can make a real impact. It’s empowering for the organisation and local communities that live in the area or visit and it brings hope.”

Danby Lodge National Park Centre 2023

Photo credit: Dependable Productions

Looking ahead

In its North York Moors Management Plan (2022), it outlines a strategy to become a resilient landscape that addresses climate change and nature recovery over the next twenty years. 

Tom said: “Spreading that decarbonisation story is important as it shows that the National Park Authority takes this seriously and is here to support residents in what they can do.”

And the future certainly looks fascinating for the National Park. There are plans to build a more energy-efficient headquarters as well as ambitions to switch its fleet of vehicles to electric.

Main image photo credit: Paul Kent