06 August 1999
Cornish farmers prepare for eclipse
By John Burns
FARMERS in Cornwall are boosting their incomes by renting out campsites to the hordes of visitors expected to watch the solar eclipse next Wednesday (11 August).
Emergency plans are being put in place in to ensure the predicted arrival of thousands of eclipse-spotters and their vehicles causes as little disruption as possible.
The local branch of the National Farmers Union has set up a round-the-clock Eclipse Helpline (0374 626 341), which will operate until Friday, 13 August.
Co-ordinator Mike Ellingham said farmer members had been warned to safeguard crops from damage by trespassers, especially fire damage.
But there could be a wide range of emergencies. “We have round-the-clock access to the appropriate agencies to get things sorted,” he said.
Firms like Cornwall Farmers have encouraged producers to order inputs in time for delivery well before Wednesdays solar eclipse.
Milk Marque has already switched to collecting milk at night from farms in areas most likely to affected by eclipse-related traffic and will continue to do so next week.
Movement of grain in Cornwall and parts of Devon around the date of the eclipse is expected to be somewhere between difficult and impossible.
Mike Hambly of Cornwall Farmers said: “No one dare have a boat into Plymouth that week in case they cant fill it because of the traffic.
“So we lose a weeks potential exports off the combine, apart from local difficulties on the roads moving grain from field to farm stores.”
But attempts by Cornish farming co-op Kernow Grain to avoid the expected traffic chaos have been wrecked by the local council.
Restormel District Council planners refused any temporary extension of the 8am-8pm hours that their store is allowed to operate.
The firm had asked to be allowed to haul grain in and out during the night when the roads could be expected to be less crowded with visitors.
“It was a contingency plan in case the traffic got snarled up, but the planners dont see it like that,” said chairman John Moss.
“There arent enough agriculturally-minded people on the council to give us support.”