Torbay's economy relies on tourism, it brings over 3 million visitors to the Bay every year which generates around £450 million pounds for the local economy. The English Riviera's natural environment is its main asset in terms of attracting these visitors and the Trust is the key organisation caring for these special places including:
It is vital that these sites are cared for properly and conserved for wildlife and environmental reasons whilst also being sustainably used for tourism purposes.
Occombe Farm was purchase by Torbay Council in 1969 with the aim of turning it in to a municipal golf course. Not everyone was in favour of this plan and it was eventually abandoned after the centre of the farm was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by English Nature. The Council reassessed their plans and when Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust was created in 1999 plans to open the farm to the public began to be drawn up. After creating a new farmyard in 2003 the Trust were able to start farming the land and set about raising money to create visitor facilities. A new farm shop café and nature trail opened in 2006 with new education facilities following later.
Berry Head is a National Nature Reserve and probably Torbay’s most important wildlife site. As well as rare plants and animals the site has two Napoleonic era Forts. After much planning the Trust secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2007 to restore the site. This involved restoring the Napoleonic Guardhouse as a visitor centre and creating a new café. The Forts themselves underwent three years of restoration involving the removal of invasive plants and repointing of the masonry. Grazing has been reintroduced on to the site to insure the right habitat for the rare plants on the limestone headland.
Cockington Country Park is 450 acres of greenspace which forms a green lung separating Torquay and Paignton. The estate dates back to the Domesday Book and is a very popular tourist attraction. The Trust has recently secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a five year restoration programme for the park. This will restore important heritage features and fund an activity programme designed to get more people and volunteers involved with the heritage. The Trust has to raise match funding for the project, if you would like to get involved see here.