Drought declared across parts of England as heatwave continues

An official drought has been declared in southern, central, and eastern parts of England. The move was announced following a meeting of the National Drought Group – made up of senior decision makers from the Environment Agency, government, water companies, and environmental protection groups. It comes after a prolonged period of dry weather and on the second day of a four-day heatwave during which temperatures are expected to reach 35C across large areas of the country.

The eight Environment Agency regions covered by the drought order are Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Hertfordshire and north London, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, Thames, and the East Midlands. The decision gives greater powers to introduce hosepipe bans and other restrictions on water usage.

Millions more households now face a hosepipe ban after restrictions were brought in by Yorkshire Water. This comes after several other water companies in the south east of England and South Wales earlier imposed bans. The drought is the first to be announced in the UK since 2018.

As well as an extreme heat weather warning for much of England and Wales during 11-14 August, The Met Office has also the highest warning on its fire severity index, which gives an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one was to start.

The dry conditions across England and Wales have prompted a ‘very high’ warning, with a section across England and up to the Welsh border rated as ‘exceptional’. Several supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, have withdrawn disposal barbeques from sale after use of the products was linked with a high risk of fire on tinder-dry ground.

Meanwhile, around 1,000 firefighters have been battling a huge wildfire in the Gironde region of France which has destroyed homes and forced 10,000 residents to evacuate. Strong winds and high temperatures have been hindering the firefighting operation, which has seen resources brought in from other European countries including Germany, Poland and Romania to try to contain the blaze.

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