A multi-million pound fundraising appeal is being launched today by the National Trust in a bid to raise money to acquire Bantham beach and the Avon estuary in south Devon.
One of the finest estuaries in South West England and the best surfing beach in south Devon, this coastline is a place that has captured the hearts and minds of generations of holiday-makers and local people.
If the appeal is successful the Trust would maintain the high-quality access enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people every year and would work hard to further enhance the landscape along the estuary as a home for nature.
Joel Wakeling, a National Trust ranger, who is from south Devon said, “When I think of Bantham I think of the golden sand and rolling Atlantic waves. Somewhere that I spent a lot of time when I was growing-up; it’s a place that means so much to so many.
“As someone whose heart and soul is connected to this very special stretch of coastline it would be amazing if the National Trust could raise the money to buy Bantham beach and Avon estuary.
“I would then know that my children and children’s children would be able to have the same experiences that I had growing up, and that everyone will be able to enjoy this special place forever.”
Thanks to the generosity of donors and legators the Trust is able to commit more than £4 million from its Neptune Coastline Campaign towards the purchase of Bantham beach and Avon estuary. Based on estimates from the selling agents that still leaves a gap of £2.6 million, which the National Trust now urgently needs to raise.
The National Trust cares for 742 miles of coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – including beaches, cliffs, islands, sand dunes and estuaries. Its most recent high-profile acquisition was in 2012 when it raised money to buy a one-mile stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Mark Harold, Director for the South West, said: “This is a magical place, a true jewel on the South West coast. We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to permanently secure and protect the landscape of one of the least spoilt coastal sites and secure its future for everyone to enjoy.”
“If we don’t raise the money then the future of Bantham beach and the Avon estuary is uncertain and this stretch of coastline might one day be disrupted by inappropriate management or development.”
The South West Coast Path runs along this stretch of coast at Bantham, so a level of public access is assured. However, the beach access is via a private road and if the National Trust was not successful in its acquisition, public benefit could be significantly reduced if a purchaser sought exclusive access and closure of the car park.
Mark Harold, added, “After long and hard consideration we have decided not to put in a bid for the cottages on the estate as the National Trust’s core purpose is not about being a social landlord.
“We have to make difficult choices to ensure that we use our limited resources where they will provide the greatest public benefit but we will seek to work with local residents and the wider community. We would also hope to work closely with any potential purchasers of the village.”
The estate at Bantham has been in the same family for generations. Bantham has been managed very sensitively to protect the unspoilt nature of the Avon estuary and surrounding countryside.
Inappropriate commercialisation has been avoided to create a feeling of charm which has attracted families over many generations, as well as water sports enthusiasts and those wanting to explore the beach and surrounding coast.
There are four easy ways for members of the public to support this appeal:
1. Donate online at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lovebantham
2. Call 0344 800 1895 to pledge your support
3. Send a text message to support the appeal – please text BANT14 followed by the amount you’d like to give to 70070 (So to give £5, it’s BANT14 £5)
4. Donation cheques, made payable to ‘National Trust’, with ‘Bantham appeal’ written on the back of the cheque, can be posted to: National Trust, Supporter Services Centre, National Trust, PO Box 574, Rotherham S63 3FH