Where is there a drought in England? Parts of country affected as heatwave continues

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has moved parts of England to drought status

A drought has been declared in parts of England as a heatwave continues.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) made the announcement on Friday (12 August).

Parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are being moved into drought status, DEFRA said.

Here is all you need to know:

Where has a drought been declared?

The drought status has been declared in parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England.

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Including: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and East Midlands.

The change could lead to more measures such as hosepipe bans, however, the Environment Agency has reassured the public that essential water supplies are safe.

The NDG is made up of representatives from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), water companies, the Environment Agency (EA), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Natural England, Consumer Council for Water, water services regulator Ofwat, Water UK and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, as well as the Angling Trust and the Rivers Trust.

At a meeting earlier this summer, it moved most of England into “prolonged dry weather” status, the first of four stages used to describe its response. It has now moved to “drought”, the second stage.

What has the government said?

Water minister Steve Double said: “We are currently experiencing a second heatwave after what was the driest July on record for parts of the country. Action is already being taken by the Government and other partners including the Environment Agency to manage the impacts.

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“All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies.

“We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed.”

Parched fields and meadows in Finedon, Northamptonshire. A drought has been declared for some parts of England on Friday, with temperatures to hit 35C making the country hotter than parts of the Caribbean. Picture date: Friday August 12, 2022.

Why has a drought been declared?

The declaration comes after the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The ongoing dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

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An amber warning for heat has been issued by the Met Office and remains in place until Sunday.

It is in place for much of England and Wales with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.

How warm will it get this weekend?

By Friday (12 August) afternoon, temperatures are to soar as high as 35C in southern areas of the UK, which will be hotter than the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados.

Forecaster Craig Snell told the PA news agency: “It’s going to be an incredibly hot day, and very sunny across the board, with temperatures slightly higher than what we saw on Thursday.”

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There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.

Where are hosepipe bans in place?

Four water companies in England and Wales had earlier brought in hosepipe bans or signalled their intention to do so, while the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.

Some water companies have failed to meet their own targets for cutting household leaks and domestic use, with many blaming the coronavirus pandemic as more people have been at home.

Ofwat, the water regulator. said in a statement: “Progress has been made in the past few years but there is much further to go, which is why we are pushing companies to reduce leakage, fix their environmental performance and become more financially resilient while keeping bills affordable and helping customers reduce their consumption.

“Where we find that companies have fallen short, we will act – over the last five years, for example, we have imposed penalties and payments of over £250 million.”