1 Drought summit: Why not pipe the water from north to south

London Mayor Boris Johnson is the latest in a long line of people to wonder why droughts have to be a regular occurrence in the south-east of England, when water is so abundant further north.

Ahead of the drought summit, in which the environment secretary is to meet water companies, farmers and wildlife groups, Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph:"The rain it raineth on the just and the unjust, says the Bible, but frankly it raineth a lot more in Scotland and Wales than it doth in England."

This being the case, he asks why it is not time to "use the principle of gravity to bring surplus rain from the mountains to irrigate and refresh the breadbasket of the country in the South and East".

Piping water from wet north to dry south has seemed like a good idea to a long line of people, most significantly the Water Resources Board, the government agency that used to look after what was then regarded as a national resource.

In 1973, it compiled a major report that advocated all kinds of infrastructure to aid the trickle-down: building freshwater storage barrages in the Ouse Wash and Morecambe Bay, using canals to move water from north to south, extending reservoirs and building new aqueducts and tunnels between river basins.

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