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Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 16:35 GMT


UK

The price of eclipse

What 1.5 million people are waiting for


Click here to watch a solar eclipse from last year.

The government is to be asked for military equipment to help cope with an estimated 1.5 million people expected to visit Devon and Cornwall this summer.


The BBC's Clinton Rogers: "It's busy enough most summers"
But the numbers visiting one of the UK's major holiday destinations are not set to rise because of a particularly good long-term weather forecast.

Instead it is because people want to see the August sunshine disappear for two minutes.

A total eclipse of the sun will only be visible in this small portion of the country, leading to five-fold increases in the price of holiday accommodation.

The local newspaper's Website, This is Cornwall, has a long list of offers.


[ image: Web small ads show the price of eclipse week]
Web small ads show the price of eclipse week
One small ad for a property normally available for £1,000 a week is typical - the price is £5,000 for eclipse week.

Meanwhile enterprising farmers have been told they could earn £100,000 for allowing campers to use five acres of land.

But the tourism industry is not welcoming the bonanza with open arms.

Nigel Buckler of the West Country Tourist Board admits to concern at "those who are particularly keen on short-term gain".

He says they may damage the area's image and wants the mainstream tourist industry to offer "a value-for-money and quality experience".


[ image: Cornish traffic jams will be longer this year]
Cornish traffic jams will be longer this year
On a more practical level there are serious concerns at how Cornwall will cope with the invasion.

Devon and Cornwall's Chief Constable John Evans and a group of local MPs are meeting Home Office Minister Paul Boateng to outline anticipated problems with policing the event.

The estimated cost of the operation is £1.15m, including £560,000 in military aid such as helicopters, trucks and communications equipment.

"We do need an indication that there's going to be some government support," said the chief constable as he travelled to his London meeting.

"If there isn't we'll have to plan the budget as though there is none and we'll have to not do other things that we are prepared to do."

Mr Evans has already spoken to Home Secretary Jack Straw concerning the event, which is expected to cause traffic chaos in the region.

Leave for all 3,000 police officers has been cancelled for the period of the eclipse.

On your bike

Former Army Brigadier Gage Williams suggested that bicycles may be the answer to potential gridlock, with eclipse viewers parking further away and cycling to vantage points.


[ image: Cornwall may not be so tranquil in 1999]
Cornwall may not be so tranquil in 1999
The total solar eclipse is the first over mainland UK for 70 years and will be visible from south of a line between Port Isaac, north Cornwall and Teignmouth in south Devon.

It is estimated that the moon will pass in front of the sun, blotting it out completely, for a maximum period of two minutes and six seconds.

The so-called line of totality, where the view will be best, lies between St Just and Falmouth, both in West Cornwall.

The last time there was a total eclipse over part of Britain was in June 1927, when it passed over three million people in the north of the country.

This time only Cornwall and parts of Devon will be able to see it on 11 August.





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25 Nov 98†|†UK Politics
Eclipse minister plea blotted out

18 Nov 98†|†Health
Cornish women told to put family plans on hold





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