Duke of Westminster’s private jet under the spotlight

Duke of Westminster’s private jet under the spotlight


The Grosvenor Estate – headed by the Duke of Westminster – prides itself on its green credentials yet continues to operate a private jet.

Private jets have been in the news lately after Prince Harry and Meghan were accused of hypocrisy for espousing environmental views while taking flights aboard such a carbon footprint-heavy form of transport.

Now the Labour Party is exploring plans to ban private jets from UK airports from as early as 2025 should it win the election after a report revealed carbon emissions from the sector equivalent to 450,000 cars each year.

Little is known about the usage or business case behind the twin-engined Cessna 560XL private jet registered to the Eaton Estate office in Eccleston , near Chester .

Grosvenor’s twin-engined Cessna jet at Hawarden Airport.

That includes how much it is used by the current Duke of Westminster, who is passionate about the environment and was recently pictured encouraging children to ‘learn how to care about their own and the wider environment’ in his role as president of an educational charity The Country Trust.

Certainly his father the sixth Duke of Westminster regularly commuted in a private aircraft between Chester and his London office in a journey that took just 35 minutes.

He told Desert Island Discs in 1995: “My greatest luxury is having my own aeroplane. It means I do have the ability to cover enormous distances in a day and still be able to get home.”

Grosvenor Estate are loathe to discuss the jet operated by Virtus Aviation Ltd, which is wholly owned by a Grosvenor Estate Trust.

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A spokesman for the Duke of Westminster said: “We don’t comment on private travel arrangements.”

However, a source close to the Duke said: “The Duke takes his environmental obligation seriously. Like many others, he occasionally uses air travel to make his work and commitments possible, after other factors are properly considered.

“He takes and assesses his options on a case by case basis and thinks carefully about the difference he can make more broadly. When he thinks about carbon emissions he doesn’t just think about his individual footprint, but on behalf of the whole organisation he represents and can influence.”

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Theresa May, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor , during the official handover to the nation of the newly built Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at the Stanford Hall Estate on June 21, 2018. The centre provides world-class rehabilitation facilities for members of the Armed Forces who have suffered major trauma or injury during their service. (Photo by Oli Scarff – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

There’s no doubt the Grosvenor Estate has a strong claim to care for the planet.

Across its Eaton estate, about 91,000 trees were planted in 2017 and 100,000 in 2018 with target of 110,000 trees in 2019. Eaton estate works to a 25-year plan to sustainably increase woodland in a scheme approved by the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The estate also prides itself on being energy efficient and embracing sustainable fuel sources. All of the energy directly consumed by the estate is procured from renewable sources.

Grosvenor is also working to ensure an increasing number of tenanted properties benefit from heat produced by biomass boilers and is exploring the use of ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, grey-water systems and solar power.

School children learned about habitats, conservation and food chains on a visit to Eaton Estate.
(Image: Victoria Tetley)

As stewards of more than 4,000 hectares of land, the Eaton estate is located in an area that includes a wide range of rare plants and animals. Protected birds of prey thrive, including red listed species such as lapwing, and peregrine falcons.

Grosvenor says this same approach is employed across 260 hectares of land in collaboration with its award-winning commercial farm – Grosvenor Farms.

By creating new and innovative farming facilities, applying sound animal husbandry and sophisticated technologies, it is claimed the farms have reduced antibiotic use on herds by 60%; the use of artificial fertiliser by 40% and have chosen to manage around 12% of the farm’s land to support greater biodiversity and improve natural habitats.

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