9 April 2001
Blair fails to reopen rural Britain

By FWi staff

TONY BLAIRS attempt to re-open rural Britain appears to be in shreds after an internet poll shows that most people will stay away because of foot-and-mouth.

The Prime Ministers bid to boost tourism appears to have been thwarted by livestock carcasses being burned on pyres, claims the survey of 500 people.

Almost two-thirds of people planning a holiday in the British countryside over Easter have cancelled their trips because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

A poll on the NFU Countryside website found 66% of people had been planning to take a rural break over Easter, but 65% of those had cancelled.

A new website listing 15,000 attractions has been launched as the government tries to woo tourists from home and abroad to Britains countryside.

In addition, the Downing Street website includes information about foot-and-mouth disease in 13 languages for would-be visitors.

Meanwhile, an anti-farming demonstration aimed at getting thousands of people to visit the Lake District has so far gathered little support.

Environmental campaigner Martin Allen believes trees should replace livestock on Britains hills which have been “shaved bald” by grazing sheep.

Wiltshire-based Mr Allen, who is also a computer worker, is trying to organise a mass march starting at Ambleside on Easter Sunday (15 April).

He began publicising the march last Friday (6 April), but is yet to receive a single response. “I may only get half-a-dozen people,” he admitted.

The news comes as new cases of foot-and-mouth renew fears that the epidemic is spreading in areas previously free from the disease.

Foot-and-mouth has been confirmed at Nelson, Caerphilly, less than 20 miles from Cardiff. Until now, the disease was confined to mid-Wales and Anglesey.

Foot-and-mouth has also been found on a farm on Englands east coast near the resort of Whitby, North Yorkshire, about 40 miles from the nearest outbreak.

A case confirmed near Sorbie, Scotland, has become the first to be identified in Wigtownshire. It is more than 30 miles from the nearest outbreak.

Livestock producers have dismissed suggestions by agriculture minister Nick Brown that farmers are delaying attempts to bring the disease under control.

Mr Brown has written to 85,000 producers urging them not to launch legal appeals against the mass culling of healthy animals.

NFU Countryside
Easter Lake District Demo homepage
Visit Britain webpage
Open Britain homepage
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage