Further businesses have been banned from taking water from rivers as another area in eastern Scotland was pushed into significant water scarcity. 

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has now suspended most water abstraction licences on the River Ythan in Aberdeenshire, warning the area has reached "extremely serious" conditions. 

Bans on the River Tyne in East Lothian, alongside the Lower Tweed in the Borders remain in place after they were imposed last week. However, restrictions in the Upper Tweed area have been lifted. 

Farmers and the agriculture industry have been most severely impacted by the suspensions, as 41 businesses received full or partial bans in the Tyne area alone. 

Sepa warned that the three areas which have reached the highest level of alert for water scarcity have experienced some of "their lowest flows in decades".

The Tyne at East Linton has reached its lowest levels since 1995 or the second lowest since records began. 

Meanwhile, the Tweed reached its second lowest flow since 1971 and the Ythan at Ellon has not been as low since 2003.

Sepa's head of water and planning Nathan Critchlow-Watton warned that the conditions could put natural habitats at risk. 

 He said: “In the affected areas the current conditions are extremely serious and, without action, there is a substantial risk of impacts on fish populations, natural habitats and longer-term damage to watercourses.

“We recognise the impacts caused by suspending water abstractions, however, it is action we cannot avoid.

"The sustainability of local water environments is vital to everyone, including farmers, and we continue to work closely with all those who rely on them to ensure they are protected."

He added: “Managing water scarcity has been a challenge for many businesses and we are grateful to all those who have complied with and continue to support the necessary restrictions.

"It is only by working together like this that we can overcome this challenge, both now and in the future.”

The latest pause on water abstraction in Aberdeenshire came into effect from 12.01am on Thursday, September 1.

Sepa continues to monitor the impact of any rain forecasts with plans to lift suspensions as soon as possible.