1. ITV Report

Hosepipe ban relaxed for gardening firms

The hosepipe ban remains in force for householders, but has been relaxed for gardening firms. Photo: ITN.

Gardening businesses have been given a temporary reprieve from the hosepipe ban after water supplies were boosted by the wettest April on record.

Thames Water has announced a four-week relaxation to the rules for landscaping, turf and gardening firms in the south-east of England, allowing them to use hosepipes on newly laid turf and plants.

But the ban remains in place for the rest of the company's customers.

Richard Aylard, Thames Water's sustainability director, said: "Our restrictions have caused real difficulties for some gardening businesses, so we are relieved to be in a position to take this step, which will enable them to carry on designing, landscaping, maintaining and building new features and gardens, while safeguarding their livelihoods and those of their employees.

"From today they will be able to water where necessary to get new gardens, lawns and plants established, and their clients will be able to continue this for up to 28 days."

The decision has been welcomed by horticultural businesses which feared the restrictions could lead to the loss of contracts and jobs. The Turfgrass Growers Association had reported a 60% drop in sales since the hosepipe ban was brought in.

Thames Water has vowed to lift restrictions for the rest of its 8.8 million customers as soon as possible.

Mr Aylard added: "While the topsy-turvy British weather - record downpours after a record dry spell - has been working in our favour lately, we need to see how much water gets deep underground where we need it for what could still be a hot-dry summer".

The south-east is still officially in a state of drought and it's thought that a wet winter may be needed before water supplies return to normal.

Further information on the hosepipe ban can be found on the Thames Water website.