Drought expected to be declared in parts of England as heatwave scorches country

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

Published

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

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.

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.

Declaring drought will see the Environment Agency and water companies implementing more of their plans to manage the impacts of low water levels, which can include actions such as hosepipe bans.

A person jogging on a path surrounded by dead grass in Victoria Park, east London
A person jogging on a path surrounded by dead grass in Victoria Park, east London
The risk from potential wildfires is said to be high
The risk from potential wildfires is said to be high

Four water companies in England and Wales have already brought in hosepipe bans or signalled their intention to do so.

While the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.

It comes as a four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday, with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.

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.

Temperatures reached 34.2C at Wiggonholt, West Sussex, on Thursday afternoon, and climbed above 33C in a number of places from Shropshire to the south east of England.

Met Office chief meteorologist Andy Page said: “Persistent high pressure over the UK means temperatures have been rising day-on-day through this week and it is important people plan for the heat.

“Temperatures are expected to peak at 35C on Friday and possibly 36C over the weekend.

“We will also see increasingly warm nights, with temperatures expected not to drop below the low 20s for some places in the south.”

He said temperatures would drop early next week, with heavy showers and thunderstorms likely in some areas – but it was “impossible to say yet exactly where and when they will occur”.