'False hope' warning as frustration mounts over Storm Arwen power outages

Households across the north east of Scotland are facing a sixth day without power after a major electricity distribution company said its staff were working in some of the most challenging conditions they had faced in decades.

Around 15,000 people across Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, and Perthshire remained off the grid on Tuesday, as teams of engineers and tree cutters worked around the clock to repair widespread damage to the electricity network caused by Storm Arwen on Friday.

While the majority of people expressed gratitude for those toiling to restore the power, many have expressed frustration at the lack of accurate information coming from Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN).

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The company remained at red alert status on Tuesday as it continued to deal with the devastating fallout from the storm, which caused widespread disruption to the power supply network.

The firm said it reconnected an additional 2,000 customers overnight, bringing the total number of people it helped restore power to, to more than 105,000 properties.

SP Energy Networks said around 2,000 of its customers were without power, mainly in the Borders, Dumfriesshire, Fife and Lothians.

SSEN said “good progress” was being made in repairing the high voltage faults on lines connecting larger areas of population, but said restoration times for localised faults were likely to extend into Wednesday.

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said its staff were facing some of the most challenging conditions in decades. Picture: SSEN/PA WireScottish and Southern Electricity Networks said its staff were facing some of the most challenging conditions in decades. Picture: SSEN/PA Wire
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said its staff were facing some of the most challenging conditions in decades. Picture: SSEN/PA Wire

Mark Rough, the company’s director of customer operations, apologised to those affected and stressed it was aiming to restore the majority of homes off supply by the end of Tuesday.

However, he added: “We are still experiencing challenging conditions and multiple faults on individual circuits, with complex repairs underway that are taking longer than normal to rectify.

“The extent of the damage is also hampering the ability to re-route the network to restore supply and regrettably, restoration times for some customers will extend beyond Tuesday.”

Around 600 field staff have been deployed across the north east, with an additional 150 support staff assisting the effort. Mr Rough said the teams of engineers and tree cutters were “working flat out in some of the most challenging conditions we have experienced in decades”.

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Despite the firm’s Powertrack app and website stating that power had been restored to some postcodes across the north east, numerous residents took to social media to say they remained without electricity.

Others complained that despite logging outage reports several days ago, they had yet to receive any communication or update.

Lynn Bruce, who lives near the rural Aberdeenshire village of Peathill, said she had been told by a member of SSEN’s staff its app – designed to give instant and accurate updates on power outages – was “overloaded” and not registering.

She said she had been given “absolutely no update” to power outage reports at her property, despite the fact there are two elderly occupants.

Kerry Farquar, from near New Pitsligo, south of Fraserburgh, was also enduring another day without power, heating or running water. She too questioned the updates coming from the firm.

“False estimates have been given every day since then, resulting in people in those areas being given false hope,” she said.

Susannah Hencken said she had tried to contact SSEN via telephone, Facebook messenger and email, as well as registering her mobile for text updates, but had yet to receive a response.

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