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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Martin Fricker

Eton College's playing fields treated to 'gallons of water' as hosepipe ban expected

While parks and gardens turn brown in the drought, these Eton playing fields are being treated to gallons of water every morning.

Our exclusive photos show sprinklers pumping out water onto the grass at the Dutchmans playing field at PM Boris Johnson’s former school.

In contrast to the parched grass seen across the UK, sections of the rugby pitches at the posh fee-paying school remain lush green.

There is no hosepipe ban in the area yet but one is expected imminently unless there are several weeks of heavy rain.

It is believed the sprinklers are watering freshly-grown or newly-laid grass on the pitches.

Locals blasted the school for "prioritising its lawns" instead of conserving water (Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Irate locals slammed Eton, which charges £14,000-a-term, for prioritising its lawns over conserving water.

Geoff Botting, chair of the Countryside Charity in south Oxfordshire, accused it of undermining the water conservation message.

“One would expect a college that produces many of the nation’s leaders would provide a proper example,” he said.

“It’s a pretty poor show and it is presenting itself in a poor light.

“It undermines the message of its graduates to be careful with water consumption.”

Sections of the lawn at Eton remain "green and lush" (Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

David Dickie, environmental campaigner and member of Greener Henley, said: "99 per cent of the parks in southern England are brown.

“If they have green grass I am shocked. I am appalled that they have so little empathy.”

David Eggleton, an independent councillor at Henley-on-Thames, said: “It is one of these moments where we should all save water.

“If we all did that we wouldn’t be in this situation. It’s not right, I don’t think they are being sensible.”

Eton is part of the Environment Agency’s Thames area - one of eight areas moved into drought last week.

The others are Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Herts and north London, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the East Midlands.

It means water rationing may take place across the country, with fewer barriers for water companies who wish to ban customers from using hosepipes and washing the car with tap water.

More severe measures can also be put in place, including banning the use of sprinklers, the cleaning of buildings, vehicles and windows.

So far this year hosepipe bans have been implemented by Southern Water and South East Water.

Welsh Water will implement a ban from 19 August, and Yorkshire Water from 26 August. Thames Water, which covers Eton, has also said it is “ready to go” with a hosepipe ban.

In a statement, Eton College told the Mirror: “At Eton we are very conscious of the need to conserve water whenever possible.

“On Dutchmans we have recently undertaken some renovation work on cricket squares and parts of rugby pitches.

“That is where the watering is happening and we are being very careful to water only these targeted areas.

“Our Grounds Manager double-checked the position with Thames Water before undertaking this sprinkling, who confirmed that this is permitted.”

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