Talks over Scots offer to send water to drought-hit England

A sprinkler head
Image caption Some hosepipe bans have been lifted but parts of southern and east England are still in drought

Talks are to take place about the possibility of Scotland supplying water to drought-hit areas of England.

An offer of assistance was made by Scottish Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil in March.

Some hose pipe bans in the south have been lifted recently after heavy rain fall but in some areas real issues with supplies remain.

The UK government has confirmed it is willing to discuss the issue with Scottish ministers.

When Mr Neil wrote to the UK ministers earlier this year, offering help with water supply in the long-term, he conceded there would be "massive logistical issues" to be overcome.

Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh, he said: "I am pleased that the UK government has responded positively to our offer.

"Even as some hosepipe bans are lifted, the south of England continues to face real issues with water supply, which look set to continue well into the future.

"Scotland has a plentiful supply of water and superb industry expertise, so it was only right that we offered our assistance."

Drought areas

He again highlighted the logistical issues and said there would need to major developments to make the transfer of water "commercially viable".

Mr Neil added: "This is a government that thinks long-term and our hydro nation agenda is ambitious and offers huge opportunities in this area."

Seven companies restricted water use in April to combat drought in areas of southern and eastern England, including Kent, Surrey and Hampshire, after two dry winters.

But the restrictions were followed by record rainfall across England that month, and more rain in May and June.

Last week three water firms lifted their hosepipe bans.

Scotland's infrastructure and capital secretary, Mr Neil, also restated the importance of keeping Scottish Water as a publicly-owned corporation.

He said the utility had transformed its performance over the last decade developing into "an organisation that has garnered plaudits from across the world".

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