‘High risk of drought’ across Oxon and Bucks

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A DRY winter and falling groundwater levels have led to an early drought warning for Oxon and Bucks.

The Environment Agency issued a warning last week for the whole south-east of England, but highlighted counties including Oxon and Bucks as being at particular risk of drought.

Public water supplies, agriculture, and the environment are all at risk, the agency said.

Environment Agency spokesman Helen Vale said: “With the south-east of England moving formally to drought this week and many parts of England at high risk it’s more important than ever that we all use water wisely.

“The Environment Agency must balance the water needs of people, businesses and the environment. We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought.”

Shortfalls in soil moisture have increased over the winter, the Environment Agency said, while river levels also fell.

With little of the winter left for recovery of groundwater, the risk of drought in the spring and summer in Oxon and Bucks is high, the agency said.

Most of East Anglia has been in drought since last June, the Environment Agency says, while the whole east of England has had 27 per cent of its long-term average rainfall in February.

Derek Hedges, of Bucknell Farm near Bicester, does not foresee a problem this year but said things could get worse.

He said: “I don’t see it as a risk with the type of crops we grow here.

“Although the ditches aren’t running with water, the aquifers are still flowing. It’s all about the weather to come, and that’s going to be a problem for everyone.”