Letter: Solar stampede
Saturday 16 January 1999
Sir: Your feature on the total eclipse in Cornwall next August ("Can Cornwall survive the solar eclipse?" 29 December) suggested that I predicted 4 million visitors. In fact, in the debate I called in Parliament, I said the best guess at present is that there will be about 2 million people in the county to see it - about 1.2 million more than the usual number in Cornwall in August.
This is far from a liberal estimate - as I pointed out, some others predict 4 million visitors. By comparison, 3 million went to see the last total eclipse in Britain in 1927, at a time when it was far harder to travel.
Whatever the true figure, one thing is certain: even the lowest estimates would far exceed the capacity of the county to cope in normal circumstances. It will need a great deal of planning and effort to ensure that visitors have an enjoyable experience, avoiding clogged roads, inadequate water and sewerage or overwhelmed emergency services.
MATTHEW TAYLOR MP
(Lib Dem, Truro and St Austell)
House of Commons
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