1. ITV Report

Fruit farmers suffer in deluge

Will our supermarket apples come from the south east this year? Photo: PA

Thames Water confirmed today there is no longer a possibility of more serious water restrictions being needed for its customers this year but expressed continuing caution about longer-term prospects.

Following exceptionally heavy rain in April and the first few days of May, the company said that although its temporary use ban, or ‘hosepipe ban’, would need to remain in place for the time being, it could now rule out applying for a Drought Order, which is required for a supplier to impose further restrictions.

And after the wettest April on record Kent fruit farmers are now worrying for their crops.

Today’s announcement by Thames Water comes after the Environment Agency published a report removing drought status for 19 counties in England but confirming that London and the South East are still in drought, and that despite recent rain groundwater levels remain lower than 1976 in some areas.

Richard Aylard, Thames Water’s sustainability director, said: “It is a great relief for us that we can now rule out seeking a Drought Order this year.

“No water company wants to impose restrictions on its customers for any longer than absolutely necessary. Despite all the recent rain, we still have a serious groundwater shortage, and we could yet have a long hot summer, so, much as we’d love to, it would be irresponsible for us to lift the ‘hosepipe ban’ just yet.”

Farmers, while welcoming the rain, are now saying the wet weather has produced the perfect environment for pests, and the continual rain has stopped them from spraying their crops.

And while the forecast is for a dry weekend the region is expecting more rain next week.