Festivals brace for extreme weather

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The Independent Culture

Rain-lashed fields are an annual hazard for the British festival-goer. But extreme weather events caused by climate change are making fatalities at festivals a serious threat, the UK concert industry has warned.

The outdoor concert business has been told to place safety above profit following a year marred by serious stage collapses.

Seven fans died at the Indiana State Fair and five at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium when stages came crashing down after failing to withstand high winds and storms.

Far from being "freak" events, festival organisers admit that extreme weather incidents are likely to become a feature of the British summer. Emergency evacuation plans and early-warning systems to detect hurricane-level winds will be in operation at next year's events.

Rudi Enos, who designs some of world's largest temporary structures, including the 20,000 capacity NME tent at the Reading Festival, said: "This has been the event industry's annus horribilis. We should now instigate procedures for much worse weather than previously anticipated. I don't want to be the designer who caused a death."

Addressing the UK Festival Awards conference, Mr Enos said: "We've had too many close calls. Tents and stages can be better stabilised and supported. In the past we've allowed commerciality to drive our industry."