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The manager of a tourist attraction in Devon is considering legal action against the Met Office for its “overly pessimistic” forecasts, which he says is driving visitors away.
Rick Turner, who runs The Big Sheep, an animal-themed family attraction near Bideford that receives around 150,000 visitors a year, said he had contacted solicitors and may sue the Exeter-based weather service.
“The issue is with the Met Office’s medium-term forecasts,” said Mr Turner. “People are booking their holidays later and later, sometimes just a couple of weeks before departure. If they see rain forecast in Britain, they are going to head abroad.
“The short-term forecasts are normally good, but this year we saw several instances – including over the August bank holiday – when a few weeks beforehand, they predicted a washout, and we ended up with not even a drop of rain.”
Mr Turner claimed that the forecasts had cost the tourism industry in the South West millions of pounds, and said he had spoken to other business owners who were willing to support his cause.
He added: “Meteorologists only get excited when the weather’s bad – when we do have sunshine, they are still talking about the chance of rain. I just want some accountability, because when they make these pessimistic forecasts people start cancelling their holidays.”
A spokesman for the Met Office said its forecasts are correct 87 per cent of the time.
“No one, not even the Met Office, is able to get it right 100 per cent of the time. But the UK is lucky enough to have one of the best weather forecasting services in the world,” he said.
“We have to tell the weather as it is, and it has been very hard to find someone who hasn’t found this summer very disappointing. Devon is one of the wettest counties in England, and the Met Office cannot stop it raining.”