Leading article: The hosepipe and the rain

There was a joyous inevitability in the fact that the first day of the hosepipe ban across much of southern and eastern England coincided with heavy snow in Scotland and the North, and the first serious rainfall for almost a month elsewhere. But the temptation to denounce, or even defy, the ban has to be resisted.

It is not the short-term lack of precipitation that has made it necessary, but the many months of dry weather that have left parched fields and unusually low reservoirs. Short of drastic and risky intervention, such as reversing the flow of rivers, or – more realistically – as yet unbuilt pipelines to pump water south, outlawing hosepipes is the most effective way to reduce water usage.

The end of the early warm spell, though, offers some consolation. The more late snow and rain that falls, the less the hoses will be missed. So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, and may the reservoirs be replenished even as the gardens grow green.