Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Despair and Disbelief in Eden Valley; the Epidemic May No Longer Be Dominating the Front Pages and the Nightly News, but the Ongoing Effect to Rural Business Is Still Devastating

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Despair and Disbelief in Eden Valley; the Epidemic May No Longer Be Dominating the Front Pages and the Nightly News, but the Ongoing Effect to Rural Business Is Still Devastating

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH POOLE

THIS time last year the children were peering at the ostriches of Eden Ostrich World in Cumbria's Eden Valley. Cyclists, rested from a night's stay in the Bunkerhouse, were leaving for the hills, passing the stream of 200 cars entering the attraction.

It was a profitable hive of activity for owner Simon Peet - running alongside his two cattle and sheep feed plants, the produce of which supplied farms across the county and his own herd of sheep.

This weekend, however, he cut a lonely figure in the deserted car park.

The disinfectant mat is pointless - no one is coming. His 1,100 sheep have been culled, and the Bunkerhouse and tearooms are off limits to the public under the Restriction D order.

With 934,566 animals in Cumbria slaughtered, there are few alive to be fed.

That leaves Mr Peet, his ostriches and little hope.

Mr Peet, 33, and wife Karen, 31, have been hit on three fronts. They have welcomed none of the 32,000 expected visitors to Eden Ostrich World so far this year. All bookings for rooms in the Bunkerhouse are cancelled indefinitely. The animal feed plants at Long-town and Aspatria have an annual turnover of [pound]8million - they are looking at [pound]3 million next year.

Nine staff have been laid off. The number of cases has declined to three or four a week, down from about 20 a day when Cumbria became the worst affected area, but there is little light at the end of the tunnel.

"Many farmers are in a state of disbelief," said Mr Peet. "Those that were infected have received compensation and are busy disinfecting their premises.

They won't be able to restock for six months. If we have to sell the house or the farm then so be it."

The couple received payment for slaughtered sheep, but compensation for the loss at the visitor attraction, more profitable than livestock, is less forthcoming. Like thousands of teashops and guesthouses in Cumbria that make up its [pound]964million tourism industry, there is little hope of financial aid. …

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