Britain begins drought planning after record heatwave

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A firefighting helicopter fights the forest fire.
A firefighting helicopter fights the forest fire.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP

Britain is enacting the early stages of drought plans which involve using water carefully to protect supplies, the government said on Tuesday, following record-breaking temperatures.

There are so far no plans for curbs on water use but regulators and water companies are working to manage water levels, including by operating water transfer schemes to allow rivers to be artificially maintained, the Environment Agency (EA) said.

Farmers in areas facing prolonged dry weather will be given more assistance and water companies will draw up potential drought plans, the agency added in a statement following a meeting of the National Drought Group, which comprises policymakers, industry and environmental protection groups.


Temperatures in Britain last week topped 40°C for the first time ever, igniting fires that destroyed properties in London and torched dry grassland as a heatwave rippled across Europe.

Nowhere in England is currently in a drought, and water companies are maintaining good reservoir storage for summer demand, the EA added.

"Water companies have detailed plans in place to manage water resources for customers and the environment, and are doing everything they can ... to minimise the need for any restrictions and ensure rivers continue to flow," said Stuart Colville, director of policy for industry body Water UK.

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