COMMERCIAL farming at the base of the county’s leading wildlife conservation charity will stop as it is no longer financially viable, it has been announced.

Essex Wildlife Trust told members at its Annual General Meeting Abbotts Hall Farm would cease operating as a working farm in the near future.

The 700-acre coastal site, situated on the Blackwater Estuary in Great Wigborough, is also home to the charity’s headquarters which the trust say will remain after the farm stops operating.

The commercial activities which have taken place at the farm since the trust took over in 1999 have been specifically designed to support wildlife.

A spokesman for Essex Wildlife Trust said the organisation was in the very early stages of formulating plans for the future of Abbotts Hall Farm.

“Essex Wildlife Trust has given careful consideration to its continued management of Abbotts Hall Farm as a commercial entity,” he said.

“As a charity the trust has concluded commercial farming on the existing scale is no longer financially viable.

"The landholding will remain under Essex Wildlife Trust management and will continue to be the headquarters for Essex Wildlife Trust.

“Over the coming months the trust will be exploring a range of exciting opportunities to maximise the conservation value of the land and ensuring the site delivers for both people and wildlife in Essex.”

The charity could not revealed a timeframe for when commercial operations at the farm will stop.

Essex Wildlife Trust purchased Abbotts Hall Farm 20 years ago before launching one of the most ambitious fundraising appeals in its history to pay for conservation work at the site.