Prince Charles visits revolutionary ‘eco-friendly’ village in Moravia

Prince Charles, photo: CTK

Britain’s Prince Charles spent a day in Moravia on Monday, and paid a visit to the country’s first ‘eco-friendly’ village - Hostětín, in the White Carpathian mountains. Crowds of people lined the streets to greet the Prince of Wales, known for his passionate interest in sustainable development and organic farming. Rob Cameron travelled with the prince on Monday and has this report.

Prince Charles, photo: CTK
A traditional Moravian welcome lay in store for Prince Charles as he arrived in Hostětín in blazing spring sunshine on Monday: a glass of slivovice, or plum brandy, the first of many offered to him on his day in south Moravia. This first one was greeted with something of a grimace and a shake of the royal jowls.

Folk music played and more than a thousand people packed into the town square to welcome the prince – several times Hostětín’s population of 240 souls. Hostětín is well known as the first totally sustainable village in the Czech Republic; its houses are warmed by a biomass heating plant, solar panels adorn many of the roofs, and sewage is treated with a reed-bed treatment facility. Andrea Ševčíková, manning a cake stall on the square, told me she was proud of her village’s unique environmental status:

“Ecology is a really strong subject. This visit can have a good impact on the future. It shows that small things can happen and can create larger things. Change can happen. And I’m glad that Hostětín started it somehow.”

Photo: CTK
Prince Charles doesn’t give interviews so it was left to his press spokesman Paddy Harverson to speak to the media:

“It’s a wonderful example of a town and a community that is taking action itself to try and reduce its carbon footprint, its impact on the environment. This is something that the Prince of Wales has been passionate about for all of his working life, and when he goes around the world he loves to visit places where they show themselves what they’re doing to reduce their impact on the environment. So really for him the most exciting thing is the example that Hostětín is setting, not just to the rest of the Czech Republic but to countries throughout the region about what you can do as a community to reduce your impact on the environment.”

The Prince was also given a taster of Hostětín’s main export – traditional apple juice made in the village press and bottled on site. Adam Vodička was selling it at a stall outside:

“It’s good that he supports this kind of project. I think it’s really important to the people of Hostětín.”

And as a project it’s quite unique, isn’t it? Hostětín was the first village to become energy self-sufficient.

Hostětín, photo:
“Yes it is. You can’t find it everywhere. It’s some kind of laboratory you know? It’s a big project and it’s working very well. Hostětín is trying to show other parts of the country that it can work.”

After two hours Prince Charles and his entourage climbed back into their cars and sped off to their next engagement – meeting university students in Brno. That journey was made by Audi limousine and RAF jet – hardly the greenest means of transport but the only feasible one given the Prince’s tight schedule, leaving the sleepy village of Hostětín to return to its carbon neutral existence in peace.