PLANS to transform the Gaunts House educational community stately home near Wimborne into an eco-friendly haven have been hailed as “ground-breaking”.

The current baronet of Gaunts, Sir Richard Glyn, has been granted planning permission by East Dorset District Council to construct an anaerobic digester (AD) at the site.

The digester uses naturally occurring bacteria to break down biological matter, creating biogas which is then burnt to provide power.

The matter itself is a valuable fertiliser, which will be spread on the estate’s land.

Speaking at a district council planning committee, Cllr Pat Hymers commended the estate for its hard work.

She said: “Obviously a huge amount of work and effort has gone into the preparation for this ground-breaking building in our area.”.

Council leader Cllr Spencer Flower said: “I do congratulate the applicant for the foresight he has shown.

The AD will be constructed in the green belt, around 80 metres from the nearest dwelling, Loders Cottage in Woodcutts Lane.

Gaunts House itself, which is a Grade II listed building, lies 140m to the south west, and is separated from the site by a field.

Derek Moss, of Ecofirst Consult, has been managing the project.

He said: “The Gaunts Estate has a fantastic long-term ambition to be carbon neutral and self-sufficient.”