How do you feel about solar farms? – you know, those serried ranks of sloping glass panels covering fields here and there beside the motorways.  I ask because we are about to get one, at the southern end of  the estate near Ashby de la Zouch.  It’s the brainchild of our son Richard, who was enthused by the sight of a very large one on an old aerodrome site near Loughborough.

Come to that, how do you feel about the other visible source of renewable energy, wind turbines?  Orthodox opinion says you should hate them and Jacqueline does, but I think they are beautiful, and look out for them quite as much as I would for, say, the Angel of the North.  As to their efficiency, and whether we should subsidize them, I don’t know enough about the figures to say.  And I’ve no strong feelings about solar farms either; we need electricity, but I’d rather see green fields.

On this estate we have looked at most renewable options in recent years, but not found one which answers our needs.  Other great houses around here have taken the plunge; Calke Abbey and Catton Hall have installed woodchip-fired boilers, Chatsworth and Haddon Hall both have water turbines.  Lake-source heating has been installed at Castle Howard and elsewhere; this last is something we have explored in depth, but the configuration of our present oil system and other factors proved too difficult to overcome.

Six log-burning stoves in different parts of the house, and many more throughout the estate, are our present contribution to saving fossil fuel.  We are still looking hard at other possibilities and who knows – this time next New Year