BLENHEIM Palace has unveiled the first of a fleet of new electric vehicles as it works to become a net green energy generator.

Earlier this month the Woodstock UNESCO World Heritage Site took delivery of a Nissan e-NV200, which will be used as an operations van around the estate.

This month two new Nissan LEAF cars will also be delivered as part of the palace’s ongoing commitment to radically reduce carbon emissions.

Jacqueline Gibson is the sustainability advisor for the palace.

She said: “As well as reducing our consumption by implementing wide-ranging, energy-saving programmes across the estate we are also producing renewable energy through our investments in solar cell technology and hydro-electricity.

“This year we’re aiming to generate about 15 per cent of our energy this way and we are planning to become totally energy self-sufficient within nine years.”

Blenheim is working with Nissan to gradually replace its existing fleet of petrol-driven vehicles with fully-electric alternatives.

This initiative is part of a huge overall plan which is looking at every aspect of the estate.

Karl Anders, a manager at Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd, said: “We were delighted to be able to deliver one of our all-electric vans to Blenheim and we are looking forward to working with them going forward as they look to develop their fleet.”

In addition to the new electric vehicles, Blenheim is also planning to install charging points at its new estate office and outside the palace itself.

In addition it will establish a green car pool for staff, building new cycle paths on the state and improving use of public transport links by offering discounts.

Moves to become a net generator of green energy were unveiled last year as part of the palace’s ambitious 10-year development programme, which it claims will ‘revolutionise’ virtually every aspect of the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

To put that in perspective, in 2016 Blenheim Palace used just shy of 1.8mkWh of electricity: the same as about 450 UK homes.

Other goals include training more than 100 apprentices, doubling the palace’s charitable impact on the surrounding community, and the re-purchasing of lost historical artefacts.

Unveiling the plan last summer, the palace’s CEO, Dominic Hare, said: “The 10-year plan is a joint initiative devised in consultation with the management team, trustees and the Duke.

“It underpins everything we are doing here at Blenheim Palace and involves everybody and every area of the estate.

“We believe there is no possible vision for a future successful and flourishing Blenheim which does not depend on a flourishing and successful set of communities around it – and the same is true in reverse.

“We have set an ambition to be the economic lifeblood of the area, to enhance the lives of the people in our communities and to sustain, grow and share the precious resources of the estate, the park and the palace.”