Drought declared in parts of England: What does it mean?

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The government formally declared parts of England to be in drought on Friday as the country faces a period of prolonged hot and dry weather.

The declaration does not trigger government-level intervention, but allows water companies to go further in their steps to manage supplies.

Below are some key details:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DROUGHT IS DECLARED?

– All water companies are required to have a drought plan in place setting out what restrictions they may put in place on their customers in the event of a drought.

– Water companies will implement these plans, which will include temporary water use restrictions such as hosepipe bans to reduce the demand for water.

– They can also apply for drought orders and permits which legally allow more flexibility in managing water resources including abstracting more water from rivers, reservoirs or aquifers.

– Restrictions can be put in place on non-essential water use including commercial car washes and swimming pools.

– Customers may be asked to access water from standpipes or mobile water tanks.

– Farmers could face restrictions on water usage for spray irrigation.

– The Environment Agency can ask the government to put in place restrictions on water use in industrial manufacturing or food processing which is having, or threatening to have, a severe impact on the environment or public water supply.

– Natural England, the government’s conservation advisory body, may restrict access to some areas such as national nature reserves if there is a risk of fire caused by the dry conditions.

WHERE HAS A DROUGHT BEEN DECLARED?

– Devon and Cornwall

– Solent and South Downs

– Kent and South London

– Herts and North London

– East Anglia

– Thames

– Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire

– East Midlands

Reporting by Farouq Suleiman and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams

A woman sunbathes on parched ground in Greenwich Park in London, Britain . Southern England has experienced the driest July since records began. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

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