G7 in Cornwall: Mizzle, busy skies, police checkpoints, navy warships and local delicacies

Imminent arrival of world leaders turns coastal English county into hotbed of activity

'HMS Tamar' patrols off St Ives, Cornwall, ahead of the G7 summit. AFP
'HMS Tamar' patrols off St Ives, Cornwall, ahead of the G7 summit. AFP

Negotiating the footpath in the Cornish village of St Ives is suddenly an impossible task for the locals with three-metre high corrugated steel fencing sealing off buildings in swathes of the town.

The local trainline is shut down and many roads blocked as security checkpoints are set up and thousands of police take up position in the narrow peninsula at the western tip of England. Off the beaches sits a maritime ring of steel with HMS Northumberland and HMS Tyne on patrol.

Police officers patrolling outside the security fence smile at a dog walker as he passes by. AFP
Police officers patrolling outside the security fence smile at a dog walker as he passes by. AFP

Radar stations are on high alert as Marine One, the US president's helicopter call sign, and other VIP assets cross the skies.

After months of preparation, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting the G7 Leaders’ Summit 2021 at Carbis Bay in St Ives, Cornwall.

The arrival of Mr Biden and the G7 leaders has turned the county into a hotbed of activity. The summit boon for the local tourist industry, even if the local mist and drizzling rain, known as mizzle, threatens to disrupt at least some of the family photos.

Air Force One arrives at RAF Mildenhall. AP Photo
Air Force One arrives at RAF Mildenhall. AP Photo

Also in line for a boost are local food producers as the leaders feast on fish, cheese and regional drinks. Fire pits on the beach at Carbis Bay are to provide the setting for some delegations to relax on at least one of the summit evenings.

Local airspace is shut and residents are warned to expect travel disruption.

As the influx began to arrive, opinions were divided between excitement and frustration over the hosting of such a major event in summer, when many holidaymakers take to the Cornish coast for a bit of peace and quiet.

“Two years ago we booked to come here after seeing online about what a beautiful bay it was ... but when we get here, they’ve got all this security," said retired holidaymaker Robert Akerhurst, 70.

"Literally, you cannot even walk on to the beach but [G7 leaders] are not even going to use that ... I think it’s a ploy to get us to come back next year.”

Retired resident Elizabeth Mounsey, 57, said she had mixed feelings.

Police officers in wetsuits patrol the rocky shore between St Ives and Carbis Bay. AFP
Police officers in wetsuits patrol the rocky shore between St Ives and Carbis Bay. AFP

There was an overarching sense of excitement, she said, but the timing wasn't ideal because it clashes with Cornwall's busy holiday season.

The children are thrilled that we have all these different types of aircraft flying over the house

"I think that’s probably been the biggest negative for the local people," she said.

"Maybe November or February but we are so busy in June anyway that it has caused quite a lot of congestion and stress in the town."

Another resident, graphic designer Tracey Walker, 44, described her surprise when Carbis Bay was announced as summit host.

A man photographs 'Mount Recyclemore', an artwork depicting the G7 leaders looking towards Carbis Bay. Reuters
A man photographs 'Mount Recyclemore', an artwork depicting the G7 leaders looking towards Carbis Bay. Reuters

"It seemed massively hypocritical because [G7 leaders] are coming to discuss climate change and the environment and yet flying in from all over the place," she said.

"But now it’s here and it’s happening, it is quite exciting. The children are thrilled that we have all these different types of aircraft flying over the house, so we are trying to embrace it now.”

A television crew prepares to broadcast from Carbis Bay. AFP
A television crew prepares to broadcast from Carbis Bay. AFP

Newly married Mr Johnson will shuttle between his guests and venues with dizzying speed. He will meet and hold bilateral talks with all leaders at the G7 summit (not just the core group but the EU, UN Secretary General, head of the World Health Organisation, South Korea and South Africa), except Australia's Scott Morrison, who will be treated to dinner in Downing Street on Tuesday.

Updated: June 10, 2021 06:56 PM

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