London among areas where drought is declared

The announcement follows the driest first half of the year since 1976

The announcement follows the driest July on record for some areas - Credit: PA

A drought has been declared for London following this year's dry summer.

The capital is included within eight Environment Agency designated areas across England that have been given drought status.

The National Drought Group made the announcement on Friday (August 12), with the potential it will result in measures such as hosepipe bans. 

The Environment Agency however has reassured the public that essential water supplies are safe. 

Eight of the 14 areas designated by the EA have now moved to “drought", including Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and East Midlands. 

Water minister Steve Double said: “All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies. 

“We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed.” 

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Rainfall totals for August are already dramatically below the long-term average according to the most recent EA data, ranging from 12 per cent in north east England, to 0pc in the south east and south west. 

The lack of rain follows the driest July on record for some areas, and the driest first half of the year since 1976. 

Four water companies, Welsh Water, Southern Water, Thames Water, and South East Water have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on August 26. 

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “While we are likely to see more wildfires due to the current conditions, it is impossible to say whether this will be more than when the country experienced 40-degree temperatures. 

“The bigger risk at the moment is a combination of temperature and wind speed, which will contribute to fire spread and makes incidents harder to manage and extinguish.” 

The news follows the Met Office's amber extreme heat warning earlier in the week, due to last until midnight on Sunday, August 14.

Reporting by PA.