Ian Thorpe and children at the Peat Rigg Outdoor CentreA North Yorkshire outdoor activity centre has improved its green performance thanks to a generous donation from a Teesside community benefit fund.

Peat Rigg Outdoor Training Centre, near Pickering, is one of the leading training and education centres of its kind in Europe. The centre recently installed a new carbon neutral heating system which is also helping to educate its students on sustainable energy.

The outdoor facility, based in 100 acres of its own land in Cropton Forest, received the grant from Tees Valley Community Foundation on behalf of EDF Energy Renewables, operator of the Teesside Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Redcar.

Around 2,500 youngsters from Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Teesside schools and agencies such as Bernardos and local youth services benefit from the centre each year. The Peat Rigg team run activities for children with a wide range of complex needs and those from a challenging background.

Ian Thorpe, director of Peat Rigg Outdoor Training Centre, said: “The grant has not only helped us to reduce our carbon footprint but also gives us the opportunity to educate our visitors on sustainable energy, which is very important to us at Peat Rigg.

“We teach children about the environment, the food chain, how to live in a healthy way and become confident and responsible citizens, and we feel that the new biomass boiler not only provides us with an efficient heating system, but also supports the ethos of the centre and the team.”

Burning biomass, such as wood pellets or logs, is known to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as is absorbed whilst plants are grown, making it a carbon-neutral renewable energy source. Biomass boilers provide heating and hot water both cost effectively and energy efficiently.

Peat Rigg provides accommodation and activities including climbing, kayaking, orienteering, healthy cooking, mountain biking and archery. The centre also includes a working farm, with farm animals which visitors can meet, as well as fruit and vegetable crops, providing a source of fresh food for its guests.

James Wilson, operations engineer for the wind farm at EDF Energy Renewables, said: “We were happy to step in to help such an important organisation which has a positive impact on the community.

“Peat Rigg Outdoor Centre provides a safe, enjoyable and encouraging place where children from the Teesside area can learn about the environment and build qualities which will lead to becoming responsible young adults.

“This excellent project is one of many community-led initiatives that we have supported. There are many great local community groups doing wonderful things in their neighbourhoods and these are exactly the sort of schemes that the community benefit fund is designed to support.”

EDF Energy Renewables has supported more than 70 local projects and activities through the Teesside Offshore Community Benefit Fund, which is operated by the company in partnership with the Tees Valley Community Foundation.

Through the scheme, community groups on Teesside are eligible to apply for financial support for projects, activities and events that benefit local people.