Drought-hit utility firm asks for more water

A utility firm hit by north-west England's driest start to the year since 1929 wants to take more water from lakes and rivers.

The Environment Agency (EA) said United Utilities, which supplies water to the area, will apply for a drought permit tomorrow after many reservoirs dropped to under half of their capacity.

Despite the shortage in the North West, the EA said there was "little threat" to supplies elsewhere in England and Wales.

Trevor Bishop, the EA's head of water resources, said: "We are working closely with United Utilities to make sure they are doing everything they can to secure water supplies, manage customer demand and tackle leakage."

The EA said the North West had seen its driest start to the year since 1929.

Rainfall in May was 38 per cent of the region's long-term average. United Utilities will ask for permission to take more water from Ennerdale reservoir in the Lake District. The EA has warned that by 2050, many rivers could see a 50 per cent to 80 per cent reduction in average flows during summers.