UK heatwave – live: Drought declared across large part of England

·33 min read

A drought has been declared across a large part of England as the driest summer in decades leaves millions facing water restrictions.

Parts of the southwest and swathes of southern, eastern and central England are to be moved into drought status, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says.

Yorkshire Water is the latest company to announce a hosepipe ban as another heatwave scorches the country after months of low rainfall.

The restrictions will come into effect from 26 August, the company’s director, Neil Dewis, said, citing fears over falling water stocks and a need for caution over “clean water supplies and long-term river health” as the basis for its decision.

On Thursday, experts warned that only “exceptional rainfall” in these worst affected parts of the country over the autumn and winter would ensure that water resources returned to normal before next year, sparking concern that restrictions could last into 2023.

“The autumn-winter period as a whole will be critical to dictating what the water resources position will be as we go into 2023,” said Jamie Hannaford, a hydrologist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Key Points

  • Drought declared in areas of England

  • Yorkshire Water announces first hosepipe ban in 27 years

  • UK climate effects already ‘worse than feared’ and are likely to deteriorate

  • UK ‘completely unprepared’ to deal with ‘brutal, brutal’ wildfires, union warns

  • Four-day extreme heat warning takes effect

  • ‘Exceptional’ wildfire risk in place

Grass fire blazes in Leytonstone

14:47 , Emily Atkinson

Five fire engines and around 35 firefighters have been called to a grass fire on Whips Cross Road in Leytonstone, according to the London Fire Brigade (LFB).

Around two hectares of is said to grassland be alight.

An LFB spokesperson said: “There are still high temperatures forecast, especially for the coming days, and the ground remains dry.

“We’re urging people to take extra care and help us prevent fires on open land this summer.

“Make sure rubbish, especially glass, is safely thrown away and cigarettes are always properly disposed of. Grass will be tinder dry after periods of hot weather, so please don’t have barbecues in parks and public spaces.”

Owners of ‘Britain’s best garden’ reveal how to keep flowers alive as hosepipe ban looms

14:32 , Emily Atkinson

A couple who created ‘Britain’s best garden’ have revealed their top tips for keeping lawns, plants and flowers looking pristine during the drought and sweltering heatwave.

Tony Newton, 72, and wife Marie, 74, have managed to keep their award-winning “Four Season” oasis looking spectacular despite the country basking in extreme heat.

The couple have spent 40 years crafting one of the nation’s most celebrated back gardens in the heartlands of the Black Country in Walsall, West Midlands.

And now the green-fingered pair have shared their best gardening tips to help keep Britain’s lawns looking healthy amid rising temperatures and looming hosepipe bans.

Adam Dutton reports:

Owners of ‘UK’s best garden’ reveal how to keep flowers alive during drought

Vegetable prices ‘to shoot up over winter’ due to heatwave

14:03 , Emily Atkinson

Prices of vegetables including potatoes and onions are likely to rise this winter because of difficulties in growing crops during the heatwave, a former environment minister predicts.

Arable farmer and ex-minister Sir Robert Goodwill told Radio 4’s The World at One the dry conditions were the worst he had seen in his farming career.

Heatwave: How the water shortage brought some regions to a hosepipe ban

13:37 , Emily Atkinson

As parts of the UK face hosepipe bans due to extreme heat across the region, our video team takes a look at how the situation got to this point.

Yorkshire Water, which provides for five million customers, is the latest to announce a hosepipe ban, effective 26 August.

“We don’t know, and can’t be certain, that it will rain,” Yorkshire Water’s director Neil Dewis said, adding the restrictions will allow them to “sustain water supply into next year.”

Southern Water’s hosepipe ban is already in place, with South East Water’s restrictions taking effect today (12 August).

Heatwave: How the water shortage brought some regions to a hosepipe ban

Water stock drops by 10% in more than two-thirds of reservours

13:20 , Emily Atkinson

More than two-thirds of reservoirs or groups of reservoirs in England saw their stock of water drop by over 10 per cent between the end of June and the end of July.

Ardingly reservoir in West Sussex and Hanningfield reservoir in Essex both saw the largest decreases last month, with drops of 21 per cent.

What is a drought and what happens if it is declared?

13:14 , Emily Atkinson

A drought has been declared in parts of the country as England and Wales swelter in a second heatwave in weeks.

The National Drought Group brings together officials from the government, water companies, Met Office and National Farmers Union among others.

Droughts are declared for local areas, rather than nationally, and the Environment Agency is responsible for determining whether an area is officially considered to be in drought.

Our climate correspondent Saphora Smith has the details:

What is a drought and what happens if it is declared?

Thirteen rivers at lowest ever levels

13:01 , Jane Dalton

Thirteen rivers monitored by the Environment Agency are at their lowest levels ever recorded, the agency report shows.

Soil moisture deficit is comparable to that seen at the end of the 1976 drought, it says.

Five months running of below-average rainfall across all England

12:58 , Jane Dalton

There have been five consecutive months of below-average rainfall across all geographic regions in England and above-average temperatures, the EA report reveals.

River flows, groundwater levels and reservoir stocks all decreased last month.

Driest July ever in east and southeast

12:56 , Jane Dalton

July was the driest across England since 1935, and since records began for the east and southeast, a report by the Environment Agency today reveals.

Monthly rainfall totals for most river catchments were classed as exceptionally low for the time of year.

The national report on the water situation for July looks at the rainfall, soil moisture deficit, river flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels last month.

Latest weather update from Met Office

12:55 , Emily Atkinson

Temperatures have already soared well above 30C today, but the latest Met Office forecast predicts they will inch up as high as 34C in some areas by 2pm today.

Areas declared to be in drought

12:45 , Jane Dalton

The Environment Agency has confirmed drought status in eight of its 14 areas:

  • Devon and Cornwall

  • Solent and the South Downs

  • Kent and south London

  • Herts and north London

  • East Anglia

  • Thames

  • Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire

  • East Midlands

What drought status means

12:43 , Jane Dalton

Moving to drought status means that the Environment Agency and water companies will “step up action to manage the impacts and press ahead with implementing the stages of their pre-agreed drought plans”, the government says.

It says these plans “follow local factors including reservoir levels, demand and forecasts, and lead to precautionary actions such as temporary use bans”.

The last drought in England was 2018.

Watch: Drought announced in some regions

12:31 , Jane Dalton

Drought declared in southern, central and eastern England

12:15 , Jane Dalton

A drought has been declared in large parts of England following the driest July in the UK since 1935.

Parts of the southwest and parts of southern, eastern and central England are to be moved into drought status, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says.

Drought declared in large parts of England as temperatures soar in heatwave

Drought: How to look after your garden during the hosepipe ban

12:10 , Emily Atkinson

More parts of England will see hosepipe ban put in place after the UK saw the driest July since 1935.

According to the Met Office, the month of July was the driest for England since 1935 and the driest on record for East Anglia, southeast and southern England.

To combat the drought, a hosepipe ban was put in place to Southern Water customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from on 5 August.

Now, with a drought expected to be declared in England, millions more are facing hosepipe bans.

For those who are worried about watering their gardens, our lifestyle team takes you through some top tips for maintaining a healthy garden:

How to look after your garden during the hosepipe ban

Drought declared across swathe of England

12:04 , Chris Baynes

Parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are to be moved into drought status, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed.

Met Office issues second thunderstorm warning for Sunday

11:48 , Emily Atkinson

The Met Office has issued a second yellow weather warning for thunderstorms next week, which will run from 12pm on Sunday to 6pm on Monday.

Forecasters say hit-and-miss thunderstorms will develop on Sunday and Sunday night, and may bring disruption in places across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Satellite images capture sun-baked ground after dry spell

11:25 , Emily Atkinson

Households face further food price surge as ‘dire’ drought conditions hit UK farmers

11:03 , Emily Atkinson

Households face another surge in the price of staple foods such as bread, potatoes and meat as farmers up and down the country warn crops are being hit by soaring temperatures and drought conditions.

Shoppers have already seen huge rises in food prices and another increase in supermarket prices would likely hit just as energy bills are set to double in October.

As the government prepared to issue an official declaration of drought on Friday, the National Farmers’ Union said it had “never seen a situation like it”, with members reporting unprecedented dry conditions, poorer quality produce and declining yields.

Ben Chapman reports:

Households face further food price surge as ‘dire’ drought conditions hit UK farmers

UK weather: Thunderstorm warning issued by Met Office as heavy rain to fall after four-day heatwave

10:37 , Emily Atkinson

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy showers across swathes of the UK on Monday in the wake of the heatwave currently scorching the country after months of low rainfall.

The weather warning, issued on Friday morning, will cover much of the UK - bar some areas along the east cost - and will run from 6am to 11.59pm.

Forecasters have warned there is a small risk that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds.

More on this breaking story here:

Thunderstorm warning across UK as heavy rain to fall after four-day heatwave

Sainsbury’s and Tesco halt disposable barbecues sales as UK faces ‘exceptional fire risk’

10:25 , Emily Atkinson

Sainsbury’s and Tescos are the latest supermarkets to have put a stop to disposable barbecues sales amid fears they could spark dangerous wildfires after the recent dry spell left grassland like a tinderbox.

It follows in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi in halting sales of the potentially dangerous products entirely.

Tesco initially implemented a temporary local ban on disposable barbecue sales near areas of outstanding natural beauty – a policy similar to those currently in force in Co-op and Morrisons stores.

Read our report in full here:

Sainsbury’s and Tesco halt disposable barbecues sales due to ‘exceptional fire risk’

Watch: UK bakes amid heatwave with drought looming for some parts of country

10:09 , Emily Atkinson

Politics explained: What is the record of privatised water companies in England?

09:49 , Emily Atkinson

The regional water authorities in England were one of the last industries to be privatised by Margaret Thatcher, in 1989. Every time there is a water shortage and hosepipe bans are brought in, the cry goes up to cut the bosses’ bonuses, fine the companies for leaks and renationalise them, writes John Rentoul.

Politics explained: What is the record of privatised water companies in England?

Cutting down water usage 'could slash energy bill’

09:42 , Emily Atkinson

People have a “significant opportunity” to reduce their energy costs by reducing their water usage, the chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water said.

Emma Clancy told Sky News: “The drought has brought all our use of water into sharp focus and it is very much a precious resource that we need to value and it doesn’t have to be complicated, the steps that we need to take. Just very simple steps will make a big difference.

“And there’s also a significant opportunity for households to save money at a time when that is really, really important.

“So, around 16 per cent of your energy costs are actually spent heating water. So, if you can take a shorter shower, if you can use less water, you’ll be saving on your water bill. And you’ll also be saving on your energy costs, which is incredibly important right now.”

Water companies should reduce leakage by half by 2050 as ‘basic standard’

09:24 , Emily Atkinson

Water companies must “step up” in their efforts to address leakages which can “dampen people’s enthusiasm” for trying to save the resource, the Consumer Council for Water’s (CCW) chief executive has said.

Emma Clancy said visible leaks can “really just turn people off” in terms of the steps they need to take to reduce their water use.

She told Sky News: “We know that when leakage is seen, particularly visible leaks where you see an incident in the street, it really does dampen people’s enthusiasm to take the steps that we’re describing.

“So it is very, very important that companies do step up, that they do tackle the visible leaks and also that they communicate with people much more clearly about the steps that they’re taking and why they are taking it.

“CCW’s research shows that around 50% of people are happy with the communications that they receive from water companies, so there is some way to go and we think that that can be strengthened. Leaks must be addressed as part of this solution.”

She urged companies to see the target of reducing leakage by half by 2050 as “a basic standard” which they should try to exceed.

PA

Drought will not lead to ‘stand pipes around UK'

09:09 , Emily Atkinson

Drought in the UK would not lead to “stand pipes around the country”, a cabinet minister has insisted.

Asked by LBC what a drought would mean for the Britain, and what actions water companies should be taking, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “This isn’t going to be like the 70s where there were stand pipes around the country when we had similar sort of temperatures.

“Indeed, since the private investment went into the water industry, we have seen a lot more improvements in things like leakages and similar.

“We need to continue to keep that focus, but, overall, I think it is about people being careful with water.”

Drought a ‘consequence of a changing climate and environment,’ says UKHSA

08:59 , Emily Atkinson

Drought is a consequence of a changing climate and environment, and such changes leave the world open to an “an increasing risk of new and emerging infectious diseases”, Professor Isabel Oliver has warned.

The UK Health Security Agency’s chief scientific adviser transition lead told Sky News: “These changes are associated with an increasing risk of new and emerging infectious diseases - so, diseases that we might not have seen before, because of our changing environment, we are at greater risk of experiencing.

“It’s really important that, you know, we continue to work to make sure that we prevent and mitigate those threats to health.”

Thames Water hosepipe ban 'could be pushed forward if drought declared’

08:44 , Emily Atkinson

Thames Water is “ready to go” on announcing a hosepipe ban if a drought is declared, its strategy and regulatory affairs director has said.

Cathryn Ross said there is a process for introducing a ban but that could be bypassed if an official declaration of drought is made later on Friday.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We have to wait and see what the government says and exactly what that means, possibly even later today. I don’t know, we will obviously consider that.

“But, as you probably noticed, at Thames Water we’ve been asking our customers since late May to respond to the hot weather, to respond to the dry weather and just really take steps to use water wisely.”

Asked if a drought was declared, whether the hosepipe ban could come in straight away, she said: “Very probably, yes. We are ready to go with our hosepipe ban.

“Obviously before we introduce the ban itself, we need to be really ready with all of our communications for people right the way across the region, so we’re really clear for everybody what they can do, what they can’t do, and if they’re having any issues how to contact us. We are ready to do that.”

Extreme heat ‘more evidence’ of climate change, says minister

08:26 , Emily Atkinson

Cabinet minister Therese Coffey has called on water companies to “do their bit” to reduce water leakages as another heatwave scorches the country after months of low rainfall.

Asked if the extreme heat causing drought in England was down to climate change, the work and pensions secretary told Sky News: “I think it’s certainly more evidence, if people needed it, of the impact of extreme weather events with gradually changing climate.”

She added: “In the short term, we’ve seen an increase in investment in trying to reduce leakages ... the water companies need to continue to do their bit to reduce unnecessary leakages.”

Sainsbury’s and Tesco halt disposable barbecues sales amid ‘exceptional’ fire risk

08:05 , Emily Atkinson

Sainsbury’s and Tescos are the latest supermarkets to have put a stop to disposable barbecues sales amid fears they could spark dangerous wildfires after the recent dry spell left grassland like a tinderbox.

It follows in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi in halting sales of the potentially dangerous products entirely.

Tesco initally implemented a temporary local ban on disposable barebecue sales near areas of outstanding beauty – a policy similar to those currently in force in Co-op and Morrisons outlets.

Meanwhile, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “As a precautionary measure we are removing from sale all disposable barbecues until further notice.

Safety is our highest priority and we have made this decision due to the hot and dry weather that we are currently experiencing across the country.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and listen to customer feedback.”

It follows a petition on the UK government website calling for a national ban which has so far amassed more than 20,000 signatures.

Drought could last until 2023, experts warn

07:53 , Emily Atkinson

Experts have warned that only “exceptional rainfall” in the worst affected parts of th esouth and east of England over the autumn and winter would ensure that water resources returned to normal before next year, sparking concern that restrictions could last into 2023.

“The autumn-winter period as a whole will be critical to dictating what the water resources position will be as we go into 2023,” said Jamie Hannaford, a hydrologist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Yorkshire Water announces its first hosepipe ban in 27 years as reservoir levels fall below 50%

07:36 , Emily Atkinson

Yorkshire Water has become the latest company to announce a hosepipe ban, with restrictions coming into effect from August 26.

Yorkshire Water’s director of water, Neil Dewis, said: “Our decision to introduce a hosepipe ban is based on the risk that water stocks continue to fall in the coming weeks and the need to be cautious about clean water supplies and long term river health.”

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.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports:

Yorkshire Water announces its first hosepipe ban in 27 years as reservoir levels drop

Drought may be declared for parts of England amid heatwave

07:25 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Drought is expected to be declared for some parts of England, as another heatwave scorches the country after months of low rainfall.

There are expectations drought could be declared for the most affected areas of England in the south and east, after the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The National Drought Group – made up of Government and agency officials, water companies and other groups such as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) – is set to meet today to discuss the prolonged dry weather.

Emily Beament has more:

Drought expected to be declared for parts of England as heatwave scorches UK

In Pictures: Wildfires rage across Europe

07:00 , Aisha Rimi

A man and a child watch a wildfire in Carrapichana, Celorico da Beira, Portugal (REUTERS)
A man and a child watch a wildfire in Carrapichana, Celorico da Beira, Portugal (REUTERS)
A view shows trees and vegetation burnt by a major fire in Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France (REUTERS)
A view shows trees and vegetation burnt by a major fire in Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France (REUTERS)
A view of a house and a car destroyed by fire in Belin-Beliet, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France (REUTERS)
A view of a house and a car destroyed by fire in Belin-Beliet, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France (REUTERS)
A picture taken overnight on August 11, 2022 shows the sky turning red as it is illuminated by flames at a wildfire near Belin-Beliet, southwestern France (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken overnight on August 11, 2022 shows the sky turning red as it is illuminated by flames at a wildfire near Belin-Beliet, southwestern France (AFP via Getty Images)

Watch: Sky above southern France fills with flames after wildfires rage across the country

06:00 , Aisha Rimi

Government responds to Labour’s claims that they ‘have put the smoke alarm on snooze'

05:03 , Aisha Rimi

A government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to ensuring fire services have the resources they need to keep us safe, including from wildfires, and, overall, fire and rescue authorities will receive around £2.5 billion in 2022/23.

“Lessons from the July heatwave are being implemented at pace and we are conducting daily risk assessments with the key agencies involved to ensure we’re fully prepared for extreme weather.

“We will set out our approach for the country’s resilience to 2030 and make sure we continue to be prepared to meet all future challenges.”

The Met Office: Another hot and dry day expected across the UK

04:01 , Aisha Rimi

What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

03:00 , Aisha Rimi

As we prepare for more intense summer conditions, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, and how it is different from heat exhaustion.

The latter occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures and excessive sweating, typically from a loss of water and salt in the body.

Heatstroke is a condition in which the body can no longer control its temperature. When it occurs, the body’s temperature can rise to 41C (106 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

Our Lifestyle team has the full explanation:

What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Voices: Private companies are failing us – water should be in public hands

02:04 , Aisha Rimi

With droughts expected to be declared in parts of the UK by tomorrow, and many households already facing restrictions on the water usage, it could come as a shock to many to learn that up to three billion litres of water are wasted each day. When water was first privatised, the story was that this would result in record investment. But the country still struggles with Victorian infrastructure and the money promised for investment has been paid out in dividends instead.

While monopoly water companies are paying out to shareholders, they lose between a quarter and a fifth of the water in their mains through unrepaired leaks while sewage regularly flows into rivers and coastlines.

This is a national scandal and the water industry cannot continue to be rewarded for its failure.

Read the full opinion piece here:

Opinion: Private companies are failing us – water should be in public hands

Water firms fail on targets to cut household leaks and domestic use

01:03 , Aisha Rimi

Water companies have failed to meet their own targets for cutting household leaks and domestic use as parts of the country brace for a drought to be declared.

Of the 17 largest companies in England and Wales regulated by Ofwat, only South West Water met its goal to reduce water consumption to 142 litres per day per person in 2021-22, through the rollout of smart meters, fixing leaks and advising customers how to save water.

The missed targets combined with companies’ failure to fix faulty main pipes, estimated to spew out about 3 billion litres a day, have led to calls for action to reduce demand and bolster dwindling stocks amid the second major heatwave in weeks.

Our Climate Correspondant Saphora Smith has the full story:

Water companies fail on targets to cut household leaks and use as drought looms

How to keep your children safe during a heatwave

Friday 12 August 2022 00:05 , Aisha Rimi

There are so many creative ways you can help your children stay safe and cool that should not be overlooked, including regular application of suncream and making DIY ice lollies from fridge essentials.

With temperatures set to climb this week to highs of 35C in some parts of the UK, The Independent has put together a list of all the best tips and tricks to ensure kids can escape the sweltering weather too.

How to keep your children safe during a heatwave

Hot dry weather ‘could trigger dangerous landslides and rockfalls’

Thursday 11 August 2022 23:00 , Aisha Rimi

As the UK approaches official drought conditions, experts are warning the public to beware of extra risks from rock falls and landslides.

The prolonged hot and dry weather means cracks in the solid rocks in cliff faces and in the ground, which have long been filled with sediments, soils and clays, are increasingly likely to shift as their moisture content is lost – a process which can result in sudden cracks and failures.

On the Jurassic Coast in Devon, warnings are in place to encourage the public to be cautious close to the cliffs, following a major cliff collapse near Sidmouth.

Our Environment Correspondent Harry Cockburn has the full story:

Hot dry weather ‘could trigger dangerous landslides and rockfalls’

Government has ‘no plan’ for droughts, farmers and campaigners warn

Thursday 11 August 2022 22:01 , Aisha Rimi

The government has been accused of having no plan to deal with drought conditions that have seen record-breaking wildfires.

Millions of people in southern England are subject to hosepipe bans, farmers are concerned about their crops and natural habitats are under pressure as months of dry weather push the country towards dwindling water supplies, with another heatwave on the horizon.

It is only set to get worse, with the climate emergency expected to bring drier, hotter summers to the UK and, with them, the potential for more frequent droughts.

Read the full story here:

Government has ‘no plan’ for ‘preventable’ drought, farmers and campaigners warn

London Ambulance Service shares signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion

Thursday 11 August 2022 21:28 , Aisha Rimi

In Pictures: Heatwave across UK

Thursday 11 August 2022 21:08 , Aisha Rimi

Firefighters attend to a fire, following a long period of hot weather and little rain, in Rainham, Essex (REUTERS)
Firefighters attend to a fire, following a long period of hot weather and little rain, in Rainham, Essex (REUTERS)
A person jogging on a path amongst dead grass in Victoria Park, east London (PA)
A person jogging on a path amongst dead grass in Victoria Park, east London (PA)
People on the dead grass in Parliament Square Garden, Westminster, central London (PA)
People on the dead grass in Parliament Square Garden, Westminster, central London (PA)
The sun rises above the London skyline, as a second heatwave is predicted for parts of the country (REUTERS)
The sun rises above the London skyline, as a second heatwave is predicted for parts of the country (REUTERS)

TikTok’s best hacks for how to keep your pets cool in a heatwave

Thursday 11 August 2022 20:55 , Aisha Rimi

Here are a few of TikTok’s best hacks to help your furry friend beat the heat:

TikTok’s best hacks for how to keep your pets cool in a heatwave

ICYMI: Firefighters ‘won’t be able to answer all calls’ as deadly heatwaves push services to ‘crisis point’

Thursday 11 August 2022 20:38 , Aisha Rimi

Firefighters have warned they will not be able to attend all call-outs as the second deadly heatwave in weeks stretches services already at “crisis point”.

Senior staff from crews around the country told The Independent that unprecedented demand and a lack of resources meant crews are not properly equipped to respond to the scale of heat-related incidents caused by the climate crisis.

They also raised concerns that drought conditions could hamper their abilities to tackle wildfires if lakes and ponds can no longer be used to access water.

Read the full story here:

Firefighters ‘won’t be able to answer all calls’ as heatwaves push services to limit

Rishi Sunak sets out measures to boost UK drought resilience

Thursday 11 August 2022 20:25 , Aisha Rimi

Mr Sunak said: “For too long, water hasn’t had the attention that it deserves. We are living through some of the driest conditions in decades, and we need to make sure that measures to boost resilience to extreme weather conditions are part of our holistic plan for water - to protect its supply and clean it up.

“Water companies can and must step up to address leakage and mains bursts, which are contributing factors to consumer disruption including hosepipe bans. When it comes to enforcement, nothing is off the table.”

He added: “Our farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about crop failure and wildfires in these extreme conditions.

“We must make sure that we are incentivising them - through schemes like the Farming Transformation Fund and Farming Equipment and Technology Fund - to invest in water storage and technology like trickle irrigation to make more efficient use of water.

“I would also build the resilience of our water infrastructure, encouraging private investment and fast tracking approvals for alterations to reservoirs and water recycling facilities as well as new projects.”

France battles 'monster' wildfire as heatwaves scorch Europe

Thursday 11 August 2022 20:10 , Aisha Rimi

A “monster” wildfire raged for a third day in southwestern France on Thursday, ravaging forests and forcing 10,000 people to evacuate their homes.

With no let-up in scorching temperatures likely before the weekend, firefighters backed by water-bombing aircraft battled on many fronts, saying the massive fire could change direction at any moment.

“It’s an ogre, it’s a monster,” Gregory Allione from the French firefighters body FNSPF told RTL radio.

Valentine Dupy took photos of her house with her phone before being evacuated from Belin-Beliet, at the heart of the Gironde region “just in case something happens”.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

“It was like an apocalypse. Smoke everywhere ... and planes throwing orange powder onto the fire.”

Firefighters said they had managed to save her village, transformed into a ghost town after police told residents to evacuate as the flames approached.

But the blaze reached the outskirts, leaving wrecked houses and charred tractors in its wake.

“We’ve been lucky. Our houses were saved. But you see the catastrophe all over there. Some houses could not be saved,” said resident Gaetan, pointing to houses burnt to the ground.

Support was on its way from across Europe, with 361 firefighters, as well as trucks and waterbombing aircrafts, expected to back up the 1,100 French firefighters already on the ground.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“We are still in the phase of (trying to) confine the fire, direct it where we want it, where there is less vegetation, where our vehicles can best position themselves ... so we can eventually fix it, control it and extinguish it,” said Matthieu Jomain, a spokesperson for the Gironde firefighers.

More than 60,000 hectares (230 square miles) have gone up in flames so far in France this year, six times the full-year average for 2006-2021, data from the European Forest Fire Information System shows.

French authorities said temperatures in the Gironde region would reach 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Thursday and stay high until Saturday.

RSPCA urges dog owners to keep them at home as temperatures soar

Thursday 11 August 2022 19:51 , Aisha Rimi

The RSPCS has shared some steps dog owners can take to ensure their dog stays cool during the summer months. Advice includes not leaving dogs in cars, giving dogs damp towels to lie on, and using pet safe suncream.

Are we in a drought and is it caused by climate change?

Thursday 11 August 2022 19:40 , Aisha Rimi

After weeks of hot and dry weather, drought could be declared for parts of England.

But what is a drought, and is the parched summer of 2022 a taste of the future?

Here are all your questions answered:

Are we in a drought and is it caused by climate change?

Some Europeans only have four hours of water daily amid drought alert

Thursday 11 August 2022 19:28 , Aisha Rimi

A village of 800 people in Spain can only get water for four hours a day as Europe continues to swelter under a heatwave.

The unprecedented temperatures scouring the continent have caused the taps in Bonastre, just south of Barcelona, to run dry as almost 50 per cent of the continent is under a drought warning.

Residents only have access to water from 7am to 10am and 8pm to 11pm each day, reports Euronews.

Samuel Webb has the full story:

Some Europeans only have four hours of water daily amid drought alert

Drought expected to be declared for parts of England as heatwave scorches UK

Thursday 11 August 2022 19:12 , Aisha Rimi

Drought is expected to be declared for some parts of England, as another heatwave scorches the country after months of low rainfall.

Warnings are in place over the health impacts of extreme heat and the risk of wildfires, as temperatures are expected to climb as high as 36C in some areas.

The National Drought Group – made up of Government and agency officials, water companies and other groups such as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) – is set to meet on Friday to discuss the prolonged dry weather.

Read the full story here:

Drought expected to be declared for parts of England as heatwave scorches UK

Source of the River Thames shifts 10 miles east amid heatwave

Thursday 11 August 2022 19:00 , Aisha Rimi

There is no running water or sign of any marine life within almost 10 miles of the usual source of the River Thames, and the climate crisis means this temporary shift could permanently change in future, experts have said.

While the springs that set the Thames on its course for London do often dry up in summer, conditions are “much worse” this year, and the ground is currently little more than a dry and dusty hollow.

Our Environment Correspondent Harry Cockburn has the full story:

‘The new normal’: Source of the River Thames shifts 10 miles east amid heatwave

Firefighters battle to contain ‘monster’ wildfire in southwest France

Thursday 11 August 2022 18:44 , Aisha Rimi

More than 1,000 firefighters were battling to contain a “monster” wildfire tearing through the southwest of France for a third day on Thursday.

The latest blaze in the Gironde region, close to the wine-growing region around Bordeaux, has so far destroyed nearly 7,000 hectares of forest. It is believed to have started from previous fires that were smouldering in the area’s peaty soil.

Around 10,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes as a precaution, with more than a dozen properties scorched by the flames.

Rory Sullivan has the full story:

Firefighters battle to contain ‘monster’ wildfire in southwest France

Voices: Climate and energy leadership is nowhere to be seen as heatwave returns

Thursday 11 August 2022 18:25 , Aisha Rimi

At this moment of acute national crisis, the prime minister has been on holiday leaving a rudderless “zombie government” at the helm, essentially waiting for the end (of the administration) to come.

So instead of a rational conversation on how to reduce the terrifying bills and cut the UK’s exposure to the unpredictable fossil fuel markets, all focus is now on the Conservative party’s contenders for the leadership.

Here there is scarcely any awareness of the scale of the crisis either, with the candidates squabbling over which inadequate scraps (cuts to green levies from Truss, cuts to VAT from Sunak) they can toss to the increasingly desperate masses.

Read the full opinion piece by Harry Cockburn here:

Climate and energy leadership nowhere to be seen as heatwave returns

Beavers helping to tackle environmental impact of heatwaves

Thursday 11 August 2022 17:32 , Aisha Rimi

Already heralded as playing a highly effective role in reducing flood risks, the return of beavers to the UK is also demonstrating how the species protect environments from the impacts of hot, dry weather.

With another heatwave in Britain and millions of people subject to hosepipe bans, the National Trust has warned the record dry spell is taking a heavy toll on the landscapes, watercourses, plants and animals across its estates.

But one area where the impacts have been considerably reduced are those sites where beavers have been reintroduced.

Our Environment Correspondent Harry Cockburn has the full story:

Beavers helping to tackle environmental impact of heatwaves, National Trust says

Some people only have four hours of water daily amid drought alert

Thursday 11 August 2022 16:44 , Andy Gregory

A village of 800 people in Spain can only get water for four hours a day as Europe continues to swelter under a heatwave, Samuel Webb reports.

The unprecedented temperatures scouring the continent have caused the taps in Bonastre, just south of Barcelona, to run dry as almost 50 per cent of the continent is under a drought warning.

Residents only have access to water from 7am to 10am and 8pm to 11pm each day, reports Euronews.

Some Europeans only have four hours of water daily amid drought alert

Arctic now warming four times faster than rest of the world, scientists say

Thursday 11 August 2022 16:26 , Andy Gregory

Earlier today, the government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King said he believed that the extreme weather events currently occuring in Europe were being driven ice melting in the Arctic circle region “much more rapidly than predicted”.

Now a new study has found that the Arctic as a whole has warmed much faster in the past four decades than previously thought - with the region heating four times more quickly than the rest of the world.

Our climate reporter Ethan Freedman has more details in this report:

Arctic now warming four times faster than rest of world, scientists say

River Rhine close to running dry as 50% of Europe under drought warning

Thursday 11 August 2022 16:02 , Andy Gregory

Dramatic new images show dangerously low water levels in many of Europe’s rivers as more than half of the continent is at risk of drought due to the ongoing heatwave.

The ongoing hot weather and lack of rain have caused water levels on the Rhine and several other German rivers to fall (Getty Images)
The ongoing hot weather and lack of rain have caused water levels on the Rhine and several other German rivers to fall (Getty Images)

A European Commission analysis of the prolonged drought shows that a staggering 44 per cent of countries in the EU and the UK are “exposed” to a drought warning, while 9 per cent of EU and the UK face a more serious drought “alert”.

Samuel Webb has more details on the situation in this report:

River Rhine close to running dry as 50% of Europe under drought warning

Current heatwave could see a ‘thundery breakdown'

Thursday 11 August 2022 15:45 , Andy Gregory

The Met Office said there could be a “thundery breakdown” to the hot weather on Monday, although it is so far uncertain which areas could see rain.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn has this report on an experiment showing how dry, parched ground makes flash flooding more likely:

Flash flooding risk during heatwave illustrated in simple video experiment

What were the peak temperatures yesterday?

Thursday 11 August 2022 15:24 , Andy Gregory

Here are the highest temperatures from yesterday across the UK.

Thermometers reached 31.8C at Wiggonholt, in West Sussex, and Monmouthshire, Wales, while Scotland saw a peak of 28.8C at Fyvie Castle, in Aberdeenshire. Northern Ireland reached 28.1C at Stormont Castle, in County Down.

Here is the contrast with today: