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St Michael's Mount, one of the properties under St Aubyn Estates' management.

Business feature

Developing award-winning policies for Cornish companies

Research student Jessica Whiting, helped implement an award-winning sustainability policy, as well as a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy at estate management enterprise St Aubyn Estates.

The project arose from a collaboration with the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), a £30million centre set up to solve problems arising from environmental change. The work, which has put the company on course to meet National Trust, UK government and European Commission targets, was coordinated by ESI Knowledge Exchange Manager Dr Jodie West.

Jessica won a Postgraduate Placements Cornwall award for the sustainability policy she helped to develop at an event run by Unlocking Cornish Potential, a body formed from a local higher education institute partnership.,

With more than 5,000 acres of land to manage, St Aubyn Estates were finding it difficult to track their energy usage, as well as being aware of a need to demonstrate green credentials to partners and customers.

Dr West explained:  “We needed to help St Aubyn Estates bring about a cultural shift. They were caught between their old, familiar routines and newer, more efficient methods.”

The University developed a research programme and recruited Jessica to work on the project.

Once she was on board, Jessica began work on reports which would form the basis of the new policies. She looked at a range of the company’s operations and how external factors might influence them.

Jessica gathered information ranging from current energy use to how planning regulations affected each site, and reported her findings back to the company. She even looked at the environmental impact of the St Aubyn Estates’ fleet vehicles – the first time anyone had done so.

Jessica’s reports prompted the company to set targets for each of the estate’s sites, with the intention of reducing respective carbon emissions by 2020.

Rob admitted the project was an ambitious undertaking – but it turned out his expectations were not only met but exceeded. He said: “We enjoyed a seamless process from start to finish with limited form filling and bureaucracy along the way.”

 “The placement was a complete success.  It really did pinpoint the requirements very early on then deliver the answer shortly afterwards.”