Client: South West Regional Development Agency
In 2009 AMION completed an evaluation of the Eden Project for the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA). The Eden Project was opened in March 2001 and is located at Bodelva near to St Austell in Cornwall. It is an internationally renowned environmental centre and visitor attraction sited in a reclaimed china clay pit. Amongst other things, the Eden Project features two large biomes – the rainforest (tropical) biome and the Mediterranean biome, together with the temperate outdoor zone, which house plant species from around the world. The Eden Project is an educational charity and a social enterprise. Its total capital cost to date has been some £132 million.
The evaluation demonstrated that significant benefits can accrue to an area as a result of investment in the visitor economy. These included the following:
- Visitors – the Eden Project had attracted over 10 million visits by the time of the evaluation.
- Employment and GVA – the Eden Project has resulted in a substantial number of permanent jobs – it employs directly some 420 staff. In addition, Eden has supported non-permanent (seasonal) jobs – the total number of staff rises to 600 in the summer period. In total, allowing for off-site expenditure, it is estimated that the Eden Project supports over 2,000 net additional jobs at the South West regional level and generates almost £100 million in net additional GVA to the region.
- Suppliers – the Eden Project had a positive impact on businesses and, therefore, stimulated business growth and investment.
- Image – there was evidence that the project had had a very positive impact on the image of Cornwall and the South West of England more generally. It had contributed strongly to creating confidence in the region and to attracting inward investment.
- Regeneration and property market – the Eden Project had led developers and others to invest in Cornwall – for example, this included one of the new hotel developments in St Austell.
- Infrastructure and transport – the Eden Project had developed a Sustainable Transport Plan to mitigate the negative environmental effects of additional journeys by motorised transport, following initial infrastructure to combat early off-site road congestion.
- Training – In terms of skills development and training, everyone who works at Eden receives relevant on-the-job training, including personal development which has led to up-skilling.
- Education – the Eden Project had also implemented programmes supporting education and learning with the aim of helping to develop more engaged, informed and empowered citizens. In 2007/08 there were some 33,410 school visits from over 620 schools.