The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued a water scarcity warning for an area of the Highlands. 

Scotland's environmental regulator said 'alert level' has been reached for the first time this year in its latest water scarcity report. 

It comes after the area around Loch Maree in Wester Ross recorded very low river flows and dry ground conditions.

SEPA has warned businesses abstracting water from the environment of the need to “start thinking now about the volume they take and when they take it, or consider an alternative source”.

Areas in southern and central Scotland, and the majority of the north including the Western Isles, are also now in 'Early Warning', SEPA added.

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Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, said: “With very little to no rainfall forecast across Scotland in the coming days, we expect ground conditions to continue getting drier and river flows to decrease or remain low.

“The next few weeks and months are a crucial time of year for water demand and we’re urging abstractors to manage water wisely, minimising the need for restrictions to be imposed by SEPA.”

“Scotland’s climate is changing and, across the seasons, businesses are experiencing the impacts of more frequent extreme weather events like water scarcity.

“The number of serious drought events is projected to increase from an average of one every 20 years, to one every two years in the near future.”

Nathan Critchlow-Watton added: “We all have a role to play in managing our water environment, this summer and beyond. Through the efficient use of water, businesses can increase their resilience to the impacts of prolonged dry conditions and save money.”