Storm Arwen: Thousands of Scottish homes still without power and water with supply potentially not reconnected until later this week

Around 1,500 homes remain without water and more than 16,000 properties without power due to the impact of Storm Arwen, which struck Scotland with ferocity at the weekend.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks engineers working to reconnect the remaining homes still off supply after damage caused by Storm Arwen.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks engineers working to reconnect the remaining homes still off supply after damage caused by Storm Arwen.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs at the Scottish Parliament that Storm Arwen was a “more significant event” than 2018’s so-called ‘Beast From The East’, which saw widespread disruption due to major snowfall, with the storm requiring a “complexity of response that we have not seen for a number of years”.

However, the Scottish Government response to the storm was criticised by the Scottish Conservatives, who labelled it a “monumental failure of planning”.

The SNP figure told Holyrood that at the peak of the storm, 79,500 Scottish Power customers and a further 126,000 Scottish and Southern Energy Networks customers affected, the SNP figure said.

In total, despite more than 184,000 properties having power restored by Monday evening, 16,763 properties were still without power as of 11:45am on Tuesday morning.

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This included properties in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, and Perthshire.

Mr Swinney said “around 1,500” properties – mostly in the Deeside area – were still without a working water supply after around 10,000 properties experiencing supply issues over the weekend.

He said “some more complex cases” would see individuals left without supply until later this week.

Storm Arwen wreaked havoc on the east coast of Scotland over the weekend, with strong winds, cold weather, and snow, resulting in damage and the closure of roads and railway lines.

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Mr Swinney explained to MSPs Scotland’s infrastructure is designed to cope best with winds from a southerly to a north-westerly direction, with Arwen bringing strong north to north-easterly winds along coastal areas, resulting in more damage than usual.

He said Met Office records showed examples of significant storms with a similar wind direction in the 1970s and ‘80s, but saw 20 to 30mph slower gusts to Arwen’s 80 to 90mph wind speeds.

The Deputy First Minister said: "Naturally, our infrastructure is designed to handle incidents from the prevailing wind direction.

"That Storm Arwen gave rise to very strong winds from an unusual direction exacerbated the severity of the incidents.”

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He added: “The power companies are also encountering much more significant damage to the network, which is therefore involving much more complex and resource intensive solutions to be able to reconnect supply to particular areas.

"Support is being prioritised for care homes and the most vulnerable in the community, including those with medical needs being taken in the most affected areas.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr hit out at the government’s response, asking why no lessons had been learned from significant storms in the past, saying the public was “astounded at the government’s appalling lack of planning”.

Mr Kerr also asked Mr Swinney whether the Scottish Government would take up the offer of assistance from the UK Government after it said it was “on standby” to provide help.

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The deputy first minister rejected the characterisation of the government’s response and said he would “look with care” at the UK Government offer, but said the UK was “awful good with words, but not very good at following it up with substance”.

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