Redefine concept of drought, Environment Agency urges
Published: 22nd May 2012 01:33:08
Policy makers should drop "drought" as a blanket term and move to a sliding scale to describe dry conditions, the Environment Agency says.
This would help distinguish small environmental impacts from emergencies that require drought orders, it said.
It said "refinement" was needed to guide people on what action was needed.
Recent relabelling of some English counties, from drought status to being environmentally stressed, reflected this approach, the agency added.
Ten days ago drought status was lifted in 19 areas of south-west England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire following persistent rainfall last month - the wettest April on record. These areas are now considered to be in "environmental stress due to rainfall deficit".
Areas across the south-east and east of England remain in drought, with hosepipe bans in place.
The perceived problem with the word drought is that, for many, it conjures up the dry cracked land that can be found in dry parts of the world, which is at odds with green countryside. The Environment Agency hopes that a new approach to describing the lack of rainfall in England could help inform people if action is needed.
May has been on the unsettled side but it looks as if the second half of the month will turn out drier, brighter and a bit warmer too”
Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, told a media briefing in London: "Drought is a very blunt term. It encompasses everything from salmon having a little trouble moving up river, to hosepipe bans and drought orders. We need to show the gradation from something that is less serious to situations where farmers and economics are impacted.
"We need refinement to help inform those who are affected and guide them on how to act.
"The jury is still out on what terms we will use, but it will probably be a nuance of what we have just currently implemented."
The reconsideration of the term drought is being led by the Environment Agency in collaboration with the National Drought Group, which includes the Met Office, Defra, and Natural England.
The Environment Agency predicts that water companies will not need to step up their current water restrictions this summer, with the wet April helping to recharge chalk aquifers in the south east.
Mr Bishop said: "We were surprised how the water in these aquifers has increased. They are still chronically deficient - but the rain has helped. We won't know by how much until all the water has seeped down - this might take a few weeks."
So far this month, from 1-15 May, the UK has had 52mm of rain according to provisional figures from the Met Office. The average monthly rainfall for May is 66mm.
However, a Met Office spokesperson says that much rainfall is not unusual, as May tends to be "a month of two halves". He explained: "The month of May has been on the unsettled side but it looks as if the second half of the month will turn out drier, brighter and a bit warmer too."
At 10:08:00 in SportWycombe Wanderers have signed Rotherham United pair Danny Rowe and Nicky Walker on loan deals until 2 November.
At 10:04:17 in HeadlinesRussian aviation experts have arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev ahead of a visit to the site of the Flight MH17 crash in rebel-held territory.
At 09:58:04 in SportCaptain Glen Chapple believes a home crowd can inspire Lancashire to victory over Glamorgan in the T20 Blast quarter-finals on Friday.
At 09:54:17 in EntertainmentProlific US television producer Robert Halmi Sr, whose work won dozens of Emmy Awards, has died at his New York home aged 90.
At 09:50:26 in SportIpswich Town have signed Hungarian striker Balint Bajner on a 12-month deal, with an option of a further year.
At 09:48:27 in WalesA massive wind farm planned for the Irish Sea has been scrapped.
At 09:43:26 in WalesA sale has been agreed on the closure-threatened Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven, safeguarding 400 jobs.
At 09:42:44 in EnglandLaser scanning and computer modelling have been used to check the structure of the world's first iron bridge.
At 09:40:15 in EnglandPlans to build 129 new homes on land in Launceston in Cornwall have been unveiled at a public exhibition.
At 09:32:50 in EnglandOrganising a Paralympic-style sporting competition for injured members of the armed forces has been a "real struggle", Prince Harry has said.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Redefine concept of drought, Environment Agency urges [Online] (Updated 22nd May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430030/Redefine-concept-of-drought-Environment-Agency-urges [Accessed 31st Jul 2014]
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A man who was found dead in County Meath is reported to have been linked to the murder of a Real IRA leader in Dublin two years ago.
The growth in house prices is starting to moderate, according to the UK's biggest building society, the Nationwide.
It's the new frontier for the internet - connecting billions of people in Africa and Asia who have yet to sample the delights of the digital world. Through an organisation called Internet.org, Facebook has put itself at the forefront of this mission.
Engineering firm Weir Group has said challenging conditions in its mining market has impacted on half year results.
Wycombe Wanderers have signed Rotherham United pair Danny Rowe and Nicky Walker on loan deals until 2 November.