This year’s Dorset AGM will require imagination, and is an opportunity to join in a discussion on what the future holds for the Holme Estate, owned by Dorset
ex-Chair, Will Bond.
The Holme Estate, poor nephew to Creech Grange and Tyneham, has only been in this Dorset family for 300 years. In the 1928 Estate Duty valuation it consisted mainly of heath and rough grazing, small farmsteads and cottages and the principle house, then known simply as ‘Holme’.
During the last century its independence has been secured by the commercial exploitation of ball clay in the south east, and sand and gravel in the north west, but reserves of both are declining. On the death of the tenant in 1984, one of the principle farms on the estate came in hand, and rather than create a hole in the estate, Will took it in hand. The farm management advice for this Grade 4 land was to plant it with trees, but a combination of farm subsidies and the hit on capital values from afforestation meant that never happened.
Instead, by the turn of the century, Will (an ecologist by profession), was looking at more active ways of mitigating climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Now the farm has planning consent for solar panels which, on these soils, is consistent with a restoration to heathland. We will look at empty fields awaiting their transition and discuss this shift in land management. We will visit an excavation area in the sand quarry which sells around 200,000t p.a. and hear how Will has won planning consent for wind turbines in the worked out voids, adding to the diversity of the renewable energy generation. The wind farm too is predicated on its ability to support serious ecological restoration, including the recreation of 13ha of heathland from exhausted arable farmland.
When these projects are up and running they will deliver more than 30MW of complimentary renewable generation capacity and significantly increase the area, quality, and diversity of heathland in this core area of Dorset.
The AGM will be held in a draughty grain store, and the rest of the day outside: suitable clothing is advised.