Setting a green example

It's one thing to talk about being green but actions speak louder than words. Environment Editor David Green meets people who are quite literally putting their own homes in order firstANDREW and Jackie Circus have gone down the eco-route in a big way.

By David Green

It's one thing to talk about being green but actions speak louder than words. Environment Editor David Green meets people who are quite literally putting their own homes in order first

ANDREW and Jackie Circus have gone down the eco-route in a big way.

The couple, who moved to Valley Farm, Holton, two and a half years ago, have installed solar energy, are building a holiday cottage using all the latest “eco” technology and are planning to erect a wind turbine to provide electricity.


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Jackie has invested in a Toyota Prius which is regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly cars on the market.

She and her husband, who run a bed and breakfast business, also source as much of their food as possible from local sources, ensuring as little as possible has to be transported a great distance and damaging the environment in the process.

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However, the most spectacular of their “green” purchases is a huge solar panel - ten square metres in surface area - which heats their indoor swimming pool and provides for almost all their other hot water needs.

The free-standing panel rotates as it follows the sun and is expected to provide for all hot water demands between May and October each year.

Andrew and Jackie lived in Southend for many years but had a second home in Halesworth - a formerly uninhabited medieval hall-house called The Black Eagle which they lovingly restored.

“We loved the area so much that three years ago we decided to move here on a permanent basis,” Jackie said.

They sold the residential home they ran and said goodbye to their 100 staff.

Now they are full of enthusiasm for eco-building techniques and renewable energy.

Andrew said: “I'm totally committed to the notion of global warming but I'm not personally convinced that it is man-made. But whatever the cause, it makes sense to harness the wind and the sun to produce energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

“It also makes sense to do everything you can to reduce your fuel bills and b less dependent on the large utility companies.” Andrew said.

The holiday cottage currently being built in the grounds of Valley Farm is on the site of a former stable block.

Even the clearance of the site turned out to be environmental - the former stables being removed and re-used by a local riding school.

The cottage is being constructed with timber and a product made with recycled newspaper is being used for insulating the eight-inch cavity walls.

Double glazed windows are being used throughout and heating will be partly provided by a wood-burning stove.

One of the novel features of the cottage is a rainwater “harvesting” system which filters and recycles the water collected in a large underground tank - for use in flushing toilets and in the washing machine.

“It is lovely soft water but we are not allowed to use it for the washing-up machine or baths and showers because of the risk of droplets being swallowed. That's because, although the water is very clean, the quality is not up to drinking water standards,” Jackie said.

Andrew said that with water being an increasingly precious resource, recycling it seemed to make sense - to reduce the need to build large reservoirs, import it to dry areas via a grid system and, of course, to reduce water bills.

Planning permission is currently being sought for a 15-metre high wind turbine which is expected to provide at least one-third of the electricity consumed by the buildings at Valley Farm.

It is the same kind of turbine which has already been successfully erected at Ellingham Primary School, near Bungay.

Jackie loves her “brilliant” battery-powered Toyota Prius which, she said, provided excellent road performance and did 55 mpg.

Her husband, however, is not convinced the vehicle is more environmentally friendly than many others - taking into account its whole lifetime, including the impact of its manufacture and ultimate disposal.

But while the two may disagree over “green” cars, they are in total agreement over the need to forge a more environmentally sound and sustainable future.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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