Monday, 29 March 2010

Landowner's star performance on environment

Queen Elizabeth I, a portrait by the 16th century Exeter-born artist Nicholas Hilliard

Its history goes back to the period of the Tudor monarchs of England and the age of the first Queen Elizabeth, but as an organisation, with headquarters just outside Budleigh Salterton alongside the Bicton Arena equine site, it's keeping up with the most demanding of 21st century standards.

Dalditch Common, looking south to Lyme Bay
Since moving to Devon I've been impressed by the organised look of the landscape - well cared for but not too manicured. Now I read that Clinton Devon Estates, one of the South West's largest landowning companies managing 25,000 acres of Devon countryside including most of the land around Budleigh Salterton, has been told that it's among the best companies to work for in Britain and the very best nationally for its efforts to protect the environment.

A small-bordered fritillary butterfly, one of the many wildlife attractions to be spotted on the commons outside Budleigh Picture credit: Devon Clinton Estates
The company has achieved the top accolade (3* status) as part of the Best Companies Accreditation 2008 and is one of only 48 organisations to achieve this grade. The Sunday Times Top 100 Companies To Work For in the UK is based on the Best Companies research and the results for small companies were published at the beginning of March.

A special project undertaken by Clinton Devon Estates has been the improvement of the Dartford warbler's breeding habitat Picture credit: Peter Beesley
As part of this year's assessment, its staff were asked to rate their company's efforts to protect the environment. With a 92% score, Clinton Devon Estates secured top position nationally. It was also ranked third best in Britain in the category of 'Giving Something Back' as a result of working closely with local communities and providing affordable housing. The Estates let approximately 350 residential properties in East and North Devon, ranging from small cottages in village locations to larger farm and country houses in their own grounds. Many of the properties provide an essential resource for local families who would otherwise find it impossible to afford to live in the villages where they were born and brought up.

Public access is seen as important in CDE's land management strategy
John Varley, Estates Director of Clinton Devon Estates, who recently gave a talk about the future challenges that the company may face in the Lower Otter Valley at Budleigh Salterton's Annual Town Meeting, commented on the company's recent sucess: "This is a fantastic achievement - we have always been proud of our record as an ethical company with the highest standards of people management and this recognition is a marvellous boost for our team.

A sloe worm: another protected species which flourishes in the area
Picture credit: Devon Clinton Estates

"To be recognised for our efforts in protecting the environment and putting something back into society is a great accolade. Clinton Devon Estates is very proud of its heritage and places great importance on protecting and enhancing the countryside and communities here in Devon."

Devon Red cattle have been introduced by Clinton Devon Estates to graze an area of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths as part of a year-long trial into sustainable land management
Picture credit: Devon Clinton Estates

Clinton Devon Estates has 75 full and part time local employees who work in various farming and forestry enterprises including the Beer and Clinton Estates in East Devon and the Heanton Estate in North Devon. It also encompasses four business parks, residential property holdings plus a number of small businesses and a portfolio of commercial property investments across the South West.

In total 653 British companies applied to achieve "Star Status" - 307 were awarded stars, only 48 have been awarded 3* status.

Woodland management, but it's not just about timber production
Forestry Manager John Wilding has worked for Clinton Devon Estates for 10 years.
"I work in woodland management which is a very long term affair and this is a family business which thinks in the long term when it comes to stewardship of its land and assets," he says. "In UK forestry we have species which take 50 to 80 years to mature. Clinton Devon Estates have been in forestry for 400 years and understand the time scales involved, a rare thing in the modern business world."

"Clinton is also about diversity - these forests are not just for timber production but also for wildlife and public recreation. I work within a team of people who manage different facets of the business including farmland and heathland yet we all work together under the Clinton umbrella which is a great benefit in creating a diverse environment for wildlife and people."

For more information about Clinton Devon Estates click on

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