Water shortages across Scotland amid drought in England is 'terrifying'

Officials at SEPA and Scottish Water continue to monitor levels across the country.

Call to take ‘serious action’ to tackle water shortages across Scotland iStock

Ministers have been urged to take “serious action” over water shortages across the country.

It comes after the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) announced that at least five areas in Scotland are at risk of water shortages, with a further area at the highest scarcity level.

Water abstraction orders have been put in place across Fife from midnight on Saturday, while officials at SEPA and Scottish Water continue to monitor levels across the country.

SEPA’s water resources specialist Michael Wann has also warned of water shortages becoming more serious, with climate change expected to make dry years more frequent and severe.

Across the rest of the UK, a hosepipe ban has been put in place in the south of England and in parts of Wales due to the hot weather.

Liam McArthur, the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson on the climate crisis, criticised the Scottish Government as he suggested that ministers are not prioritising the issue.

“This is disturbing evidence of the climate crisis affecting Scotland right here, right now. Every day, we are witnessing more examples of the toll climate change is taking,” said McArthur.

“Water is, perhaps, our single most important natural resource, so these scarcities affect everyone, from households to larger businesses, from distilleries to farms. 

“Tackling the climate emergency should be one of the top items on the Scottish Government’s to-do list, but instead their attention is on breaking up the UK. 

“Even worse, Scotland’s so-called ‘green’ party are suggesting that they too could fight the next election on the sole issue of independence.”

McArthur insisted that his party will bring a “renewed focus” to the environment.

He continued: “The SNP and Greens can talk all they want about Scottish resources, but they are recklessly ignoring the fact that shortages like this are eroding those very resources. 

“What we need is a committed government which can take serious action now.   

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will bring renewed focus to the environment. That starts with readjusting our priorities and listening to environmental experts, including SEPA, to understand how we can make Scotland more flexible and resilient with its water supply.”  

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell explained there can be “fewer more stark examples” of climate change being illustrated by the water shortages.

“It’s been utterly heart-breaking watching how soaring temperatures have laid siege to our European neighbours, drying up rivers, decimating crops and sparking almost apocalyptic wildfires with places like France particularly badly hit,” he said.

“The fact that this kind of drought and its associated dangers have now reached our shores is a terrifying new climate reality and should serve as a wake up call for everyone.

“There can be fewer more stark examples of how climate change is accelerating that Scotland being forced to turn off the taps, along with other parts of the UK who face even more extreme measures, all at a time when those running oil and gas firms contributing to the crisis are no doubt cooling themselves with champagne on ice.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Officials have been working closely with SEPA to monitor the water scarcity situation in the East and South of Scotland.

“Two rivers have reached a level of ‘significant scarcity’ due to the dry conditions. In line with the National Water Scarcity Plan, SEPA is taking action to temporarily suspend abstraction licences within the affected catchment to protect the water environment.

“These are very challenging times with a significant risk of serious and lasting damage to the water environment, and we empathise with those producers affected by the consequences of that.

“Given the scale of the risk to the water environment there is limited scope to mitigate its impacts, but we are working with SEPA to consider what options may be possible.

“This is the first time in Scotland abstraction licenses have had to be suspended due to water scarcity and shows the seriousness of the situation.

“However, there is a significant risk that such conditions will become more common in the future.”

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