Sustainability is an important ethos at the 4,000 hectare Drummuir Estate in Morayshire – not just for its commitment to developing renewable resources, but also for its “sense of place” in the community.
This principle is personified by the energy of Priscilla Gordon-Duff, who runs the estate with her husband Alex and son Torquil. Priscilla also volunteers her valuable time and experience in forestry and land management on local and regional development committees.
Although Priscilla spends lots of time helping and advising others, the traffic is not all one way, as she explained: “All this community engagement work also helps me with ideas for the estate and its wider setting. It’s useful experience for running the diversified portfolio of rural, property and renewable energy enterprises we have at Drummuir.”
For example, her role as Chair of LEADER Local Action Group for Morayshire has opened her eyes to new ways of looking at sustainable development.
She explained: I’ve been involved in the LEADER programme since it was set up in 2007 and I’ve found it a very good way of bringing private and public partners together to help engage with the local communities and help facilitate ‘bottom up’ projects that meet local needs. It’s all about doing things differently and there are some wonderful projects we’ve helped develop, such as upgrading a village hall to provide overnight accommodation to help local tourism, and renovating a local church into a multifunctional meeting place.”
Community engagement is an important aspect of Priscilla’s work, and helps to link the activities of the estate to potential benefits for the local community. Examples of this include selling the 100-year-old village hall to the local community group, who were able to obtain a SRDP grant to not only renovate it, but also install an environmentally friendly ground source pump heating system, turning it into a great community facility.
Even the wind farm on the estate brings local benefit, as the developer sets aside some of its revenue for a community fund.
Priscilla’s and Alex’s son, Torquil, is the next generation of Gordon-Duffs to run the estate and he too is keen on preserving the long-term sustainability of the business, particularly by encouraging the new generation of farmers in the area.
He said: “We have a policy of continuity on the farming side – we have a number of young farmers coming through who have taken on the succession of their parents’’ farm. Rather than taking farms back in hand when tenancies come to an end, we are happy to encourage the next generation of local farmers through.”