Fallen pylons cause power outages
Published 26/03/2013 | 05:56
Thousands of people face a fifth day without power after "unprecedented" wintry weather caused the worst damage to an electricity network in almost 30 years.
Scottish and Southern Energy said two of its pylons were toppled by sheets of ice and snow over the weekend.
The provider said it is the first time in the company's history that two metal pylons have come down. It said the last time one was felled by severe weather was in 1987, in the north of Scotland.
Last night it reported that 3,300 customers in Kintyre, in Argyll, and on the Isle of Arran were to remain cut off overnight.
The number of people without power has reduced substantially since Friday, when stormy conditions plunged 18,000 people into darkness on the west coast of Scotland.
Arran suffered a complete blackout and mainland areas in Kintyre and Galloway were also badly affected. About 400 engineers are continuing efforts to restore supplies, with a further 100 working in support offices and others on stand-by.
An SSE spokesman said: "Scottish Hydro Power Distribution (SHEPD) engineers are continuing their intense and brave efforts to restore power to homes in Argyll and Arran following unprecedented weather conditions. Instances of significant damage to the electricity network infrastructure have been among the worst seen for 30 years, with the weight of line icing pressurising the transmission lines around Crossaig where transmission towers were felled by the conditions.
"Transmission overhead lines staff have started working to make towers safe and carry out temporary repairs after finally gaining access to the location earlier today."
Helicopters were used over the weekend to identify faults and inform engineers of their locations. SHEPD has also organised eight mobile hot food outlets in Argyll and Arran, while 18 large generators and 50 smaller sets have been installed in the areas.
Emergency supplies and medical help have been delivered to communities by the Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter HMS Gannet, and the RNLI has taken milk and other essentials over to Arran by lifeboat. NHS Ayrshire & Arran said Arran War Memorial Hospital is operating on a back-up generator and has full power.