Family-owned Winterdale Cheese picked up the title after installing solar photovoltaic (PV) and ground source heat pump technologies at its barn in Wrotham, near Sevenoaks.
The independent producer, whose workforce includes 80 Friesian Holstein cows, already boasted strong green credentials but can now proudly state that its award-winning Winterdale Shaw and Oak Smoked cheese are made at no cost to the environment.
Robin Betts, owner of Winterdale Cheesemakers, said becoming carbon neutral was very important to him.
“When we began producing cheese in 2006 we incorporated a low energy input strategy in a bid to reduce our energy usage as much as possible,” he said. “This included only using morning milk, thereby retaining heat as well as freshness, and allowing our cheese to mature in our natural cave cellars, which hold a steady 10 degree heat level year-round – rather than use machinery to maintain a constant room temperature, which is one of the most energy-consuming processes for most producers.
“Now we have installed solar PV and ground source heat pump systems on site we have tipped over the edge from low energy to carbon neutral, something we’re delighted to have achieved. We believe we’re now the UK’s sole carbon neutral provider of hard cheese.”
The renewable energy technologies were supplied and fitted by Dartford-based Enevis, which boasts more than 20 years’ experience in the industry.
The solar PV system, which converts daylight into electricity, will provide annual energy savings of £883 and tax-free Feed-In Tariff returns of £3,476 – over 25 years this will provide an income and saving of £147,872.
The 9.68kWp farm also boasts strong green credentials, with CO2 savings of 8.15 tonnes per year.
The ground source heat pump, which uses underground pipes laid in trenches to extract heat from the ground, provides savings of more than £1,500 per year.
Mr Betts added: “The cost savings of these technologies are great. In the long-term they will help us make big cuts in our energy bills.
“While becoming carbon neutral was our main goal, the financial benefits to us of having Enevis install the two systems are going to be excellent.”
Gary Mayatt, Managing Director of Enevis, which specialises in the installation of renewable systems for homes and businesses, said: “We are pleased to have played a part in helping Winterdale Cheesemakers realise their carbon neutral dream.
“Renewable energy systems can be tailored to the needs and resources of each individual business, providing the firm with a noticeable savings on its energy bills and also lowering its carbon footprint.”
To find out more about Enevis, visit www.enevis.co.uk. To find out more about Winterdale Cheesemakers, visit www.winterdale.co.uk
Photo:Carla Betts and Robin Betts, of Winterdale Cheese, with Gary Mayatt, Managing Director of Enevis.