Extreme weather warning for outdoor music festivals

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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 after a year marred by serious stage collapses.

Festival organisers admitted that extreme weather is likely to become a regular feature of the British summer. Emergency evacuation plans and early warning systems to help 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. I don't want to be the designer who caused a death." Addressing the UK Festival Awards conference, Enos said: "We've had too many close calls. Tents and stages can be better stabilised and supported."

John Probyn, of Live Nation, the firm that stages concerts in Hyde Park, said: "We are encountering weather conditions that have become worse over the years. The probability of hitting an extreme weather event is higher."

Large festivals comply with stringent safety procedures, but the plethora of smaller events raises the risk that cost-cutting promoters will hire in a weaker "off-the-shelf" stage.