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Farming and tourism hit as Westcountry suffers one of wettest and dullest months on record

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 02, 2012

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Torrential rain across the Westcountry last month spelt trouble for tourism and farming prompting fears more bad weather could spark a dip in profits with knock-on effects for the economy.

According to weather experts nationally June proved to be one of the wettest, dullest and coldest on record.

While breakdown statistics for Devon and Cornwall have yet to be released last month's bad weather has clearly left its mark on two of the region's most important sectors.

Data released yesterday by MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, showed June was the wettest since 1860, the dullest since 1909 and the coldest since 1991.

Average rainfall over England and Wales, including an estimated figure for June 30, was 157mm – 231 per cent of the average for the period 1981-2010, and on a par with the 1860 readings.

Meanwhile average sunshine over England and Wales, including an estimated figure for June 30, was 123 hours, which is a mere 64 per cent of the 1981-2010 average, making it the dullest June since 1909.

A MeteoGroup spokesman said: "Such monthly totals would not have been out of place in February."

Daytime temperatures were typically 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius below the long-term average in most parts of the country.

Malcolm Bell, head of tourism at Visit Cornwall, the organisation that promotes the county as a tourist destination, said visitor numbers are 10 to 15 per cent down on this time last year

While insisting the situation was not "a disaster" Mr Bell said profits would take a hammering if the weather fails to improve for the summer season.

He said: "Numbers are down on this time last year because breaks this time of year are often optional and rely on the weather.

"It's the summer season we have to worry about. We've had three poor summers in a row and if we have a fourth we could be in trouble because while businesses may remain afloat if profits are squeezed there won't be the money to invest in refurbishments.

"The knock-on effect for builders and plasterers is obvious."

Mr Bell said the tourism industry was resilient and Cornwall's indoor attractions and stunning scenery would still attract visitors despite the weather.

He said: "We've never attracted the 'fly and flop' brigade who head off overseas to lie on a sun-lounger all day topping up their tans. We appeal to those who 'drive and fidget' – after a few days on the beach our holidaymakers usually want to go off an explore."

Ian Johnson, South West spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, said the weather had presented problems for some members while others had not suffered as badly.

He said: "It's a very complex picture depending on where you are in the South West and what you're farming.

"Obviously farmers on the Somerset levels have been worst hit with floods.

"It's been pretty cataclysmic because they've been swamped costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"While there was a need to top up water levels because of the drought it's come with a vengeance."

Mr Johnson said while crops in parts had taken a "battering" the situation was not disastrous although some pests were thriving in the wet.

He said: "Farmers pretty much everywhere are having a bumpy ride with slugs – nationally they've cost £8 million in damaged fruit and veg."

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  • Big_Ger  |  July 02 2012, 10:46AM

    You said it "should be a wake up call to cornwall", no mention of just "people in high places". Who do you think should be getting more industry into Corrnwall then? The county council?

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  • trelawneyone  |  July 02 2012, 10:33AM

    i do not recall telling anyone what to do Big-Ger i was mearly suggesting that the people in high places should pehaps be looking to get more industry or the likes here.

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  • Big_Ger  |  July 02 2012, 10:08AM

    How should we do that trelawneyone? It's all very well and good you telling us what we should do, but how about some practical suggestions on how to achieve it.

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  • trelawneyone  |  July 02 2012, 9:59AM

    this should be a wake up call to cornwall. cornish weather has become unpredictable, as for the tourist industry this could in the years to come mean less and less visitors time to be looking to get more industrial jobs or the like here before it is to late.

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