For us, being "green" isn't a new thing; even our logo reflects how running an eco-friendly business is at the centre of our values. There's no greenwashing here!
Over our 24 years at Long Hazel Park, we have planted over 2000 trees. One of our regular choices is the hazelnut tree, which we take our name from. The hazlenut tree is one of the most environmentally friendly trees going and is known to pull a considerably higher amount of carbon from the atmosphere than other trees. It also uses distinctly less water than most other types of trees. Hazel trees filter pollutants from groundwater and survive very well in our clay type soil.
In 2019, we overhauled some of the older pine trees to help reduce the acidity of the grass and improve grass growth. This has worked wonderfully well around the park, with our grass looking greener and healthier than ever! We replaced these with cherry blossom and magnolia trees to help promote wild and bumble bees, which are spotted around the park all year round.
Another key feature on our caravan park is our old oak tree, which is around 400-500 years old and has survived a strike by lightening during its life, leading to a particularly interesting shape. The old oak is part of a now defunct woodland in Sparkford village and remains on our caravan park as it is the lightening strike which saved it from being felled to manufacture ancient wooden war boats.
TAKE A GREEN HOLIDAY IN SOMERSET
The oak tree is also known to be one of the best trees for CO2 consumption, where old oaks can absorb an extra 33% of CO2 compared to younger trees. Our old oak has also spread, with the help of our squirrels, with acorns producing a second mature oak tree on site and several saplings. It is predicted that these younger oaks will capture around 21 kg of CO2 per year.
Since 2019, we have worked on filling our planters with plants more suited to tropical weather. This helps to overcome the dryest days in summer in an eco-friendly way and allowed our plants to thrive. We also use palm trees and yukkas around the park to avoid extra water waste. With our lovely warm climate in South Somerset, these plants and trees have thrived and we're now ensuring we overwinter our plants where possible, leading to a greater reduction in plastic waste for new plant purchases.
Our plants are primarily watered with rainwater collected in large water butts and we use a special built-in, water saving formula in our hanging baskets to ensure that the highest amount of water is absorbed. We encourage our customers to use any waste water to help water our trees, keep our grass green and hydrate our plants during their stay. In 2021, we added further water butts around the park, including one running off the roof of our new chemical disposal point.
In our recent shower block overhaul, we switched to LED lighting throughout and changed over to eco-friendly hand driers to avoid extra paper waste. We have push taps and showers throughout to ensure that taps aren't left running and our showers and washing areas are clad with recycled plastic. Our Altro flooring uses less energy in the production than any other flooring, with a predicted lifespan of 25+ years. We used local tradesmen and suppliers to help with our makeover.
In 2019, we also installed environmentally friendly solar panelling across our buildings and our shower block is now successfully run on solar energy. Any energy not used by us on site is fed back to the National Grid. We could never have predicted just how much energy we would generate with our solar panels, with nearly 7000 kWh in our summer quarter of 2021.
We made a change to our Christmas decorations by switching to the greener option of LED bulbs in our recycled Somerset carnival lights. All newly purchased Christmas lights are low energy LED bulbs and run on automatic timers, to ensure that they are only on when needed, to save energy. We also decorate around the park with hand made decorations made from offcuts of trees felled throughout the year and ivy removed from growing trees to give them a better life.
We renovated our Reception area using pallets from a local bulb wholesale business and turned these in to a wonderful coffee table. The chairs in Reception area are ones we inherited with the business, given a sand and polish and the seating cleaned up. The flooring is made from recycled plastic and the photo frames are upcycled.
Our Reception houses lots of local information and we have made a conscious effort to display information for Somerset's many attractions to reduce mileage for our customers. We display information for local walks, pubs, farm shops and timetables for public transport. In 2020, we launched our own Online Reception on our website, directing guests to use web links rather than printed paper brochures, which we have found has worked very well in reducing paper waste on site. Not only has our Online Reception assisted with our green credentials, but it has also proven very helpful for our guests with disabilities, as all information can now be accessed from the comfort of your own caravan, motorhome, tent or lodge. We send our Welcome Pack by email to our guests before arrival, along with all the information you could possibly need for your stay with us. This saves around 6 printed sheets of paper per guest.
Chickens permitting, we sell our own eggs on site, with their byproducts used as an eco-friendly fertiliser for our plants. We also use our grass cuttings as mulch around the trees and hedges. We use an electric shredder to shred cut branches and garden waste, which is also used to improve the quality of our soil. We manage to cut the majority of our grass lawns with a small electric mower, which is also charged by solar power.
Most of our trees house home made bird boxes, which are produced from offcuts of wood from other major projects around the park. Many of our hedges also house insect hotels to ensure sustainable pollination from wild bees. There are also a number of hedgehog houses hidden away in our hedgerows. We even use recycled tin cans as plant pots! For 2022, we are planning further bird tables and hedgehog houses and will be introducing home-made bat boxes and owl nest boxes to encourage our bat colony living in our old oak tree.
We use eco-friendly cleaning products throughout our shower block and lodges. Our custom-scented air fresheners even use natural oils rather than aerosols. Keeping our use of chemicals to a minimum, we also use sand on our grass to work as a weedkiller.
A particularly long-lived feature of our park is the recycling system and we are always over the moon when our guests help reduce, reuse and recycle too. One of the most popular features is our encouragement of guests to leave bread out for the birds, which has encouraged both red and green woodpeckers and goldfinches on site. Our Tourist Board and AA inspections have outlined how proud of our recycling facilities they are over the years!
In 2021, we switched to an Online Booking System in an attempt to reduce the amount of waste paper we produce. Teamed with using battery-powered tablets, we no longer need to print out paper records of your stay, or copies of your emails for booking in. By reducing the amount of paper we use, we are saving on average 208kg of CO2 per year. We're also saving around 79kg per year of CO2 by reducing the use of ink cartridges. The battery-powered tablets are estimated to reduce our computer-based carbon emissions by almost 100%.
Our Online Booking System requires less emails to be sent to organise bookings, which we estimate saves around 1.1kg of CO2 per day. The Online Booking System brings the added bonus of our guests being able to pay by card, which reduces mileage needed to drive to an ATM and withdraw cash.
Another great feature of our Park is the proximity to our local Bus Route, which is just 100 yards from our entrance. This regular service offers travel to many nearby market towns and can even connect you to Castle Cary Railway Station, ready for trips further afield to Bath and the coast without needing to drive your car or take your motorhome.
DAVIDE BELLAMY BLOOMING MARVELLOUS PLEDGE FOR NATURE 2022
We have joined the David Bellamy Blooming Marvellous Pledge for Nature scheme for 2022 to further our commitment to the environment. The award will assist us in four categories in order to preserve and enhance our natural habitat on site and in the surrounding area.
"Recycling bins were great too; all the options you need to recycle properly."
- Ruth Evans, August 2021
"Very clean and tidy. Very friendly owner. Recycling bins well labelled and cleaned daily."
- Dawn Britten, July 2021
"Cleanest recycling area we've ever seen including at home. We'll be back."
- Piers and Elaine Oliphant, May 2021
WHAT OUR GUESTS THINK...
We are pleased to be a finalist in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards 2021/22 in the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable category. The award covers a range of our on-site activities, including everything from recycling; wildlife habitats; tree planting; saving water; accessible accommodation and facilities; our efforts working with local businesses and in the community and Covid safety.