Engineers arrive in Shetland as thousands endure third day without electricity

Additional teams of engineers have arrived by ferry in Shetland to help with repairs as thousands of homes experience their third day without electricity in freezing weather.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is working to reconnect around 2,800 homes, but has warned some could be without power until the end of the week.

The Scottish Government declared a major incident on Tuesday after thousands of homes lost power in Shetland on Monday afternoon as heavy snow downed lines.

SSEN Distribution said 15 powerline crews arrived in Shetland on the first ferry from the mainland on Wednesday and more are departing for the islands later in the day, with 125 more engineers in total to support local teams.

Mark Macdonald, Region Head of SSEN Distribution, said: “Through a great collaboration with resilience and travel partners, we are now bringing teams, equipment and large-scale generation to the island to help us execute our recovery plan and make continued progress in re-empowering our customers.

“We had 15 powerline crews arrive on the first ferry this morning, with another 15 crews leaving tonight and many more due to arrive by plane and helicopter to support our local teams.

“Now that it is safe to fly, we are organizing helicopter patrols to fly over our airlines and assess the extent of the damage, which will help us better target our recovery strategy.”

SSEN Distribution are offering to reimburse food costs for any customers currently without electricity and reasonable accommodation costs for customers on its priority service roster who are unable to make alternative arrangements.

Emma Macdonald, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “Normally there isn’t a lot of snow, there is a lot of wind and squalls, and that has had a significant impact.

“We have so many lines down and people could be without electricity until the end of the week.

“Around 70 engineers have come across the boat (from the mainland) and are doing everything they can, but it’s a challenging task because the weather is bad and the wind is picking up.

“It’s not the power company’s fault, they’re doing everything they can to connect.

“We are a resilient community and are often cut off during the winter if the ferry isn’t running.

“Let’s all stay together.”

The Met Office has extended a yellow warning for snow and ice covering northern Scotland and north-east England until noon on Friday.

Minus 17.3C was recorded in Braemar in Aberdeenshire Monday to Tuesday, making it the coldest place in the UK for the second night in a row.

A temperature of minus 11.8C was recorded at Drumalbin in South Lanarkshire overnight into Wednesday, with six weather stations recording temperatures below minus 10C.

A man walks his dog on Blyth beach, Northumberland as freezing conditions grip the UK (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Heavy snow fell in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on Wednesday and motorists were warned to drive carefully.

Dozens of schools have been closed, including all schools in Shetland.

In the Highlands, the search continues for Rodrigo Falcon, 33, who disappeared without a coat for three days in freezing conditions.

He was last seen heading down Grampian Road towards the southern end of Aviemore at around 3.10am on Sunday.

Warmer Atlantic air will replace colder Arctic airmass over the weekend, Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said.

But that could bring snow with it as the incoming moist air reacts with the cold conditions.

Mr Madge said conditions on Shetland were set to remain challenging for engineers there.

“I’m still well in the grip of this northern flow,” he said. “Strong winds continue to pose a danger, as do further snow showers.”

The warmer spell could only last from the weekend through Tuesday, with more unsettled weather expected to bring temperatures back down, albeit not as intensely cold as at present.

In Sheffield, engineers said they had just over 100 households left to reconnect to gas as of Tuesday evening after nearly 2,000 homes in the city lost supplies 11 days earlier when a burst water main filled the local gas grid. with over a million liters of water.

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