Spelman calls emergency drought summit

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman is set to hold an emergency drought summit, after a new report raised drought concerns for the UK - revealing it had experienced the driest winter since 1972.

As a result, Ms Spelman will meet with water companies, businesses, wildlife groups and non-governmental organisations (NGO) on Monday (February 20), to discuss what needs to be done to handle a drought crisis. The meeting will hear what measures have already been implemented by companies to tackle water stress and what else needs to be done to mitigate the impact in the future.

Ms Spelman said: “Parts of the UK are already being affected by drought this year. That’s why I’m bringing together experts and key players in the water industry to make sure that we’re all working in the most effective way possible.

“All of our activity is going to be carefully coordinated so that we are able to minimise the effects of unpredictable water availability and support people in doing the right thing in taking sensible measures to save water.

It is imperative that we have a system in place that can provide a secure water supply for the future, at the same time as we continue to protect the environment”.

Figures from the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology (CEH) report reveal that much of central, eastern and southern England have again been “relatively dry”, adding that “the development of the current regional drought now extends across three winter periods with a range of impacts embracing water resources, agricul¬ture and the aquatic environment”.

The MET Office warned that “rainfall significantly above average is needed in southern, eastern and central England during the February-March-April period for a full recovery of the water resources”, but added that the “chances of this happening are low”.

A warning also echoed by Environment Agency (EA), which said that the UK could face water shortages – forcing half of households to be placed under water restrictions.

Carys Matthews

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