7 November 1997

Water shortage in SE if winters dry

GROUND-WATER levels are so low in south-east England that water supplies to farmers will be at risk next year if the weather remains drier than average.

The Environment Agency warned this week that if river flows continued to fall, farmers may not be able to fill their winter storage reservoirs for use next year.

In the past 30 months 400mm (15.8in) less rain has fallen in England and Wales than would usually be expected.

The high demand for water, especially if global warming continues, could add up to £500/acre to land values on farms with access to water, according to Peter Bennett, a director of Savills.