The Battle of Cornwall: Inside the new fight for the English Riviera

England's most idyllic county is facing a war on all fronts, as locals, tourists and second home owners go head to head...

The picturesque village of Feock, on Cornwall’s south coast, is not an obvious place for a battle. It sits on a peaceful estuary just south of Truro, where the River Fal becomes the Carrick Roads on its way to the sea. On a rare sunny morning in mid-May, sailing boats and ribs bob contentedly at their moorings. Dog walkers amble along the beach. Beneath the placid surface, however, tensions are reaching boiling point as Cornwall prepares for its busiest summer ever. “It feels like the calm before the storm,” says Alastair Smith, who owns the kayak rental business on Loe beach. “We’re going to get hit, which is good. Normally I only get bookings on the day, but this year I’m booked for late August. People are thinking ahead.”

In recent weeks, however, Feock has become an epicentre of rising tension. In April, a local roofer, John Carnon, reported that his motorboat had been targeted, its hull damaged. One night a little later on, Mike Bastian, an oyster fisherman, was awoken by a call telling him his boat’s anchor had been cut and its battery smashed. Without the quick actions of his family, the boat would have sunk. The family called the police. Bastian said he was “gutted” and that “people like this need hounding out because they’re horrible people.” He put a sign up on his boat saying. “Please leave the boat alone, leaving friendly Feock on Tuesday.”

The estuary at Feock, Cornwall, where the calm waters hide bubbling tensions

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