In case anyone is unsure – this is to confirm that the hosepipe ban, beginning 5 April until further notice – DOES apply to allotments. Previous ones have not but this one does.
Since the last hosepipe ban – when a llotments were unaffected – the statutes have been changed. In future, whenever a local water authority imposes a hosepipe ban it will apply to allotment gardens. All allotment sites will remain connected to mains water which will remain available for use.
Many tenants think the council is responsible for imposing the hosepipe ban. The ban is issued by the government’s Environment Agency and enforced by local water authorities; in our case, Southern Water. The council is simply abiding by the law in complying with that decision.
The council and the BHAF are both lobbying Southern Water to reconsider the application of their restrictions when it comes to locally growing food. In particular, the council has pointed out that it seems unfair to allow commercial growers to be exempt from the water restrictions and not extend this benefit to allotments. The BHAF has also pointed out that if the reasoning is that hosepipes are wasteful it would be fair to allow people to fill their water butts using a hosepipe and then water with a can (especially for those who have to walk several plot widths to their nearest tap. We will let you know if anything comes of this but be clear that so far any use of hose on allotments is banned.
There is some confusion about exemptions – who can get them and who can’t – the BHAF and the council have made a number of attempts to get to the bottom of it but without much success. Southern Water has advised that those registered as disabled or those in possession of a ‘blue badge’ for their vehicle may contact them to apply for an exemption. Their individual circumstances will be assessed and, in certain cases, an exemption will be granted. To apply for exemption people should contact Southern Water on 0845 278 0845. If you believe you should be exempt – be prepared to fight – and if you do get told you are exempt make sure you get it in writing!
Allotment tenants should be made aware that anyone without authorised exemption who contravenes the hosepipe ban is liable to prosecution by Southern Water and a fine not exceeding £1,000.
The restrictions are likely to change over time. For up to date answers to questions, please visit Southern Water’s website