Bloomberg News

U.K. May Be Facing Drought After Record Run of Dry Weather

December 01, 2011

(Updates with Spelman comments in third paragraph.)

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Dry weather in the U.K. may lead to drought next year after the driest 12 months on record, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Southeast England is at a “high risk” of drought because of a lack of rainfall this year, while central, eastern and southeastern England probably won’t recover next year from excessively dry weather in 2011, the department said in a report today. The year through September in the U.K. was the driest 12 months on record, according to the National Farmers Union.

“Unfortunately, if we have another dry winter, there is a high risk that parts of the country will almost certainly be in drought next summer so it’s vital we plan ahead to meet this challenge,” Caroline Spelman, U.K. environment secretary, said in the report. “Droughts are not new, but we may face a future with less rainfall and less certainty about when that rain will fall.”

Regions including central and southeast U.K. are at the highest risk of drought in 2012, according to Defra. Farmers need to plan ahead for irrigation and filling winter storage reserves and livestock producers should prepare for food and bedding ahead of prolonged drought conditions, it said.

Rain Needed

Two weeks of rain is needed to replenish soil moisture for crops and livestock feeding, Jenny Bashford, water policy adviser at the NFU, said on Nov. 17. Parts of the rivers Colne, Nene, Trent and Kennet are also near the lowest levels recorded for November, Defra said.

“The drought that has affected central and eastern England during 2011 could continue until summer and the southeast will be at risk of drought if sustained rainfall does not replenish water levels that were depleted during one of the driest springs on record,” according to Defra, which said it will reassess the likelihood of a prolonged drought in early 2012.

--Editors: Claudia Carpenter, Sharon Lindores

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony C. Dreibus in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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