More parts of Scotland have hit the highest level of water scarcity as a halt on water abstraction comes into place.

The east of the country has continued to dry out in the most recent week with conditions "getting worse with hot and dry weather", the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) warned. 

Businesses and farmers surrounding River Eden in Fife are to stop all water abstraction activities from midnight on Saturday after the agency suspended licences. 

The area reached 'significant scarcity' last week, with the Tweed catchment in the Borders reaching the highest category this week. 

Water abstraction in the Borders is to be suspended from next week with farmers reliant on groundwater and river water being contacted before the ban. 

In this area, the water measuring station in Mouthbridge at Blackadder Water dropped to its lowest flow since records began in 1974.

Meanwhile, the Lyne Station recorded its fourth lowest flow in 53 years. 

The suspensions predominantly affect the agriculture industry, with Sepa vowing they will be in place for the "minimum time necessary". 

It comes as a drought has been declared for some parts of England on Friday. 

 

Parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are to be moved into drought status, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

READ MORE: Wildfire Scotland: Risk 'very high' warns Scottish Fire and Rescue chief

Businesses and farmers surrounding River Eden in Fife are to stop all water abstraction activities from midnight on Saturday. Archive image.

The water abstraction bans are part of Scotland’s National Water Scarcity Plan.

David Harley, interim chief officer of circular economy for SEPA, said: “Having to impose suspensions on water abstractions underlines the severity of the conditions being experienced in the east of Scotland this summer.

"It is not a step we take lightly, but the evidence is clear, and it is one we can no longer avoid.

“We’re working closely with Scottish farmers to ensure the sustainability of local water environments for all who rely on them."

Mr Harley said action was needed to prevent longer-term damage on watercourse as well as fish populations and natural habitats.

He added: “With climate change leading to water scarcity becoming a more regular occurrence, we are also working to help businesses plan longer-term for these conditions.

"We remain in continuous dialogue with sectors reliant on water and work with them all year round on ways to become more resilient, protecting the environment as well as their own operations.” 

The combination of low flows and high temperatures can lead to the death of fish, invertebrates and plants living in the watercourses.

Lost fish and plant populations could take years to recover, while some populations, such as pearl mussels, could be lost forever. 

The east of Scotland also experienced the driest January in more than 80 years and groundwater levels are the lowest they have been since records began in 2009.

The rain that has been seen in the area has not been enough to recover the longer-term deficits.