What's the penalty for breaking a hosepipe ban?

·3-min read
A worker waters plants in a public park, ahead of regional restrictions for private and residential water usage being implemented, in London, Britain, August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Hosepipe bans are part of efforts to deal with the current period of extreme heat. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Parts of England are officially in drought after the driest July on record for parts of the country.

Temperatures were forecast to hit 35C as a the year's second heatwave hit, with the risk of wildfires continuing.

On Friday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are being moved into drought status.

The move comes after prolonged dry weather which saw the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year for England since 1976.

The extreme heat in July and this month has seen health warnings as well as wildfires in some areas, with fire services urging people not to barbecue in open spaces or balconies, to put out their cigarettes properly and dispose of rubbish correctly.

Watch: Areas in UK hit by water shortages as heatwave hits

London Fire Brigade said its control room had sent firefighters to deal with 340 grass, rubbish and open land fires during the first week of August – an eightfold increase on the 42 during the same week last year.

As authorities look at measures to deal with the current heatwave, along with the declaration of drought, hosepipe bans have been put in force in some areas.

Yorkshire Water became the latest company to announce a hosepipe ban, with restrictions coming into effect from August 26.

Four water companies in England and Wales had earlier brought in hosepipe bans or signalled their intention to do so, while the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.

Which areas have a hosepipe ban?

Southern Water announced a hosepipe ban at the end of July, which come into effect from 5pm on 5 August, affecting customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

On Wednesday, South East Water announced a hosepipe and sprinkler ban for Kent and Sussex, set to hit more than two million people.

Thames Water, which serves about 15 million people, said on Friday (12 August) that it is "ready to go" on announcing a hosepipe ban if a drought is declared.

Cathryn Ross, the company's strategy and regulatory affairs director, said there is a process for introducing a ban but that could be bypassed if an official declaration of drought is made.

South West Water (SWW) has also said it could bring in restrictions if there is more "exceptional demand" and sustained dry weather.

A person walks near a fire warning sign following a long period of hot weather and little rainfall, in Richmond Park, in London, Britain August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Drought was set to be officially declared on Friday. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

What can't I do during a hosepipe ban?

A hosepipe ban means people are banned from using hosepipes to clean their cars or water their garden.

It's also forbidden to fill or maintain a swimming pool or paddling pool, or to fill or maintain a domestic post or ornamental fountain.

Cleaning walls or windows using a hosepipe is also banned, as well as cleaning paths, patios or other artificial outdoor surfaces.

What's the penalty for breaking a hosepipe ban?

Flouting a hosepipe ban can result in prosecution under Section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991 and a fine of up to £1,000.

Would you tell on your neighbour?

According to YouGov polling, over half of Brits wouldn't tell on their neighbour if they saw them using a hosepipe during a hosepipe ban.

More than half of Brits would say nothing if they saw their neighbour flouting a hosepipe ban, a YouGov poll has found. (YouGov)
More than half of Brits would say nothing if they saw their neighbour flouting a hosepipe ban, a YouGov poll has found. (YouGov)

The poll of 1,958 British adults, conducted on 4 August, found that 55% said they would be most likely to say nothing if they witnessed a neighbour flouting the rules.

One in five (19%) would ask them to stop, while fewer than one in ten (6%) would tell the authorities.