19/06/2012 13:40 BST | Updated 19/08/2012 10:12 BST

Talks On England Taking Scotland's Water To Tackle Future Droughts

On the face of it, it seems blindingly obvious; England often doesn't have enough water, Scotland has more than enough of it. So why not pump some Scottish water down to England when there's a drought?

The first step toward doing that is underway. With supplies of water in parts of the south under pressure, the UK Government has confirmed it is willing to discuss the issue with the Scottish Government.

It comes after an offer of assistance from Scottish Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil.

He wrote to the UK Government in March, offering help with water supply in the long-term, if this could be both commercially and practically viable.

Mr Neil conceded there would be "massive logistical issues" to be overcome.

But the UK Government is now seeking exploratory talks on the issue with Scottish Government officials.

england drought

The River Kennett near Marlborough in England. It dried up completely in February 2012

Mr Neil said: "I am pleased that the UK Government has responded positively to our offer.

"Even as some hosepipe bans are lifted, the South of England continues to face real issues with water supply, which look set to continue well into the future.

"Scotland has a plentiful supply of water and superb industry expertise, so it was only right that we offered our assistance."

He continued: "Of course, we readily acknowledge there are massive logistical issues and there will need to be major developments to ensure the transfer of water is commercially viable.

"But this is a Government that thinks long-term and our hydro nation agenda is ambitious and offers huge opportunities in this area."

bridge of allan

Scotland often gets too much water. This was the scene at Bridge of Allan in November 2011

Mr Neil was speaking at a conference in Edinburgh, where he restated the importance of keeping Scottish Water as a publicly-owned corporation.

He said the utility had transformed its performance over the last decade, "developing into an organisation that has garnered plaudits from across the world".

"That is why the Scottish Government is committed to keeping Scottish Water as a publicly-owned corporation serving the needs of the Scottish people."