Low-waste, low-voltage Norfolk hotel shows that saving the planet needn't cost the earth

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The Independent Online

A tiny British hotel was recognised alongside multi-million pound global projects last night for its contribution to environmental tourism.

A tiny British hotel was recognised alongside multi-million pound global projects last night for its contribution to environmental tourism.

The family-run Strattons, a Queen Anne hotel, may at first appear to have little in common with Himalayan mountain or Queensland rainforest ventures but its owners' tireless dedication to conservation last night earned them a special prize at the British Airways Tourism For Tomorrow Awards.

With its lavish decor and period furniture including four post beds, the six-bedroom hotel in Swaffham, Norfolk, is certainly not what one might expect from a model of environmental discipline. But owners Vanessa and Les Scott, both 42, have introduced a strict regime in their drive for environmental perfection.

From the locally grown produce to the energy efficient light bulbs, the couple have turned economy and efficiency into an art form. The food is home grown, the decor hand painted, the rubbish recycled.

"Everything is home-made, recycled, bought locally, restored, renewed, recovered and rethought," said Mrs Scott yesterday.

Its recognition last night as Britain's greenest hotel is just the latest in a line of international accolades including a Queens award for Environmental Achievement.

Strattons, Mrs Scott insists, is proof that observing a green code need not be expensive but can even save money. When Strattons stopped using bars of soap in the bedrooms and started using environmentally friendly liquid dispensers it saved nearly £1,000 a year. The hotel's electricity bill was reduced by 19 per cent last year through the use of use of low-energy light bulbs, turning off the coffee machine between serving sessions (saving £200 a quarter) and cleaning the condensers on the back of the freezer and fringes each week.

Leftover drinking water and kitchen waste is used to water the gardens. Mr and Mrs Stratton also separate and recycle all the hotel rubbish including newspapers and bottles left in the bedrooms so that instead of eight wheelie bins a week they now only fill half a bin.

The Scotts also have their own transport policy which means they use one vehicle for everything. The seven staff have weekly staff training sessions on environmental issues.

Everything from the cheese crackers to the chocolates served to their guests is home made.Now all the food served to guests is either grown in her yard, her parents garden or bought from local organic suppliers.

Meanwhile the couple, who met at Yarmouth Art College, hand painted the ornate decor of their hotel and handle all the every day maintenance - except for plumbing and wiring - themselves.

Creativity, however, has gone hand in hand with a serious desire to conserve the environment.

"In 1997 we became founder members of the East Anglian Waste Minimalising in the Food and Drink Industry Club. We immediately set about scrutinising our existing, rather haphazard, waste reduction and conservation of energy systems. After visits from energy advisors and careful audits, we were able to set new targets," explained Mrs Scott.

The Scott's contribution may appear small in comparison to some but yesterday she was quick to point out that every effort is necessary.

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