Cornwall's Eden Project loses millions in coronavirus lockdown but is looking to re-open

Managers at the Eden Project near St Austell say the lockdown has already cost them almost £5 million in lost revenue.

It is one of Cornwall's best known tourist attractions but it has been shut since 22 March, the day before restrictions were introduced to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Horticulturalist Catherine Cutler looking after the exotic plants in one of the biomes. Credit: ITV West Country

At present, just four gardeners are working on the 30 acre site, looking after millions of exotic plants.

Catherine Cutler and her team work in the tropical and Mediterranean biomes, the huge domes that look like something out of science fiction, the plant nursery and outside. She says it's been very quiet without the thousands of visitors.

I think most gardeners enjoy peace and quiet and enjoy having time to themselves but it's unusual. It's not what Eden's about. It's not what it was designed for.

Catherine Cutler, Horticulturalist
It's not just plants - these exotic birds also need looking after. Credit: Eden Project

There are also animals that need looking after. Eden has some exotic partridges called Roul-rouls.

They normally live in rain forests in the Far East but have been introduced in the domes as a natural pest control. They still need to be fed though.

The closure has cost the attraction more than £4.5 million but managers are confident that it can recover.

We can get through. The Government schemes have been very generous in terms of furlough and so on and so we're really looking forward to the glimmer of hope of coming out the other side.

David Harland, Eden International
The sheer size of the Eden Project means that introducing social distancing measures should be fairly straightforward. Credit: ITV West Country

Things may change soon. Staff are working on implementing social distancing and other safety measures so that the Eden Project can re-open once the lockdown on tourist attractions is lifted.

There is lots of space so it shouldn't be too difficult to make sure visitors have plenty of access to hand-washing facilities and are able to keep two metres apart.

The site will certainly feel different once the domes open for business again.

  • Watch Steve Hardy's report on the Eden Project's survival under lockdown