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Drought extends to Midlands

Drought in England may last until Christmas, the Environment Agency has warned, as official drought zones are declared in a further 17 counties.

Dry weather over the past few months has left some rivers exceptionally low, and the ‘drought map’ has been extended into theMidlandsand South West. Over the past winter some parts of England received less than 60% of average seasonal rainfall.

Counties now in the official drought zone include Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire in the Midlands region, and Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, parts of Hampshire and most of Wiltshire in the South West region.

Head of water resources at the Environment Agency, Trevor Bishop, said: “A longer-term drought, lasting untilChristmas and perhaps beyond, now looks more likely.

“We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought.

“While we’ve had some welcome rain recently, the problem has not gone away and we would urge everyone – right across the country – to use water wisely now, which will help to prevent more serious impacts next year.”

Drought restrictions were already in place in south-eastEngland,East Anglia, parts of the South andYorkshire. Hosepipe bans have been introduced by seven water authorities in southern and easternEngland.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “As more areas of theUKmove into drought it is vital that we use less water to protect the public's water supply in the driest areas of the country. It is for everyone to share the responsibility to save water.”

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