Car wash restrictions are set to come into place after Sutton and East Surrey Water was granted a drought order to limit non-essential use of water.

The company is the first in the South East to be given extra powers, with Southern and Mid Kent awaiting decisions on similar applications. The order is the first of its kind made since 1995.

A spokeswoman said that the six-month order would mean that car wash facilities will have to close unless they can show that they are using less than 23 litres per car - this is only possible on those machines that use recycled water.

Peter Spencer, managing director of car wash supplier Atlantis International, said: “The average roll-over car wash uses between 130 to 150 litres per vehicle. This means that only those washes with ‘total’ recycling systems would be allowed to stay open.”

The order comes into force on May 27.