Fish rescued from drought-hit rivers as rain and snow return after record March

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Environment experts rescued hundreds of fish from a Yorkshire river yesterday amid fears over drought conditions despite rain sweeping across the region and snow covering parts of the country.

Fisheries staff from the Environment Agency mounted an operation to save brown trout and grayling from the River Rye, North Yorkshire, after water levels dropped through a lack of rain in recent months.

An electric current was used to temporarily stun the fish along a mile stretch of river around Helmsley. Once they rose to the surface, the team collected them and transported the fish to deeper pools upstream where they will stay until river levels rise enough for them to swim downstream again.

Area environment manager, Jacqui Tootill, said: “This stretch of river usually runs low during the height of summer and we have rescued fish from here before. However, we thought last year’s rescue in June at this spot was early, but this is unprecedented.”

The Environment Agency announced last week a drought in parts of Yorkshire including the catchment of the River Derwent which encompasses the River Rye.

The Met Office confirmed it had been the driest March in Yorkshire since 1931, with less than an inch of rain.

But for many the dry weather was a distant memory yesterday as around seven inches of snow fell in Aviemore in the Highlands overnight after an Arctic weather front bore down on the UK.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for all of Scotland, as well as parts of northern England, Yorkshire and Humber, and the East Midlands.

The wintry blast comes just a week after record-breaking warm temperatures in north-eastern Scotland.

Last Tuesday temperatures rose to 23.6C in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, marking a new high in Scotland for the month.

But yesterday the mercury dropped to minus 0.5C overnight.