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Tavish not happy with BT assurances

ASSURANCES that BT is to carry out further work on its Wideford Hill transmitter to prevent further communication blackouts are not going far enough according to Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.

On Tuesday, BT said it would carry out additional work to minimise the risk of another outage but warned that it could not guarantee a fault free infrastructure anywhere in the UK.

The company’s comments come after last month’s blackout when a blown fuse at the Orkney transmitter resulted in a five-hour long disruption of the telecommunication network.

The disruption saw many phone lines and radio connections down, leaving people in the isles unable to dial 999 and resulting in the closure of Sumburgh airport and the cancellation of eleven flights.

At the time BT said two blown rectifiers at the Orkney station had caused the fault, adding that it was possible the equipment had been damaged as a result of previous lightning strikes.

On Tuesday the company said it had carried out a full technical review and was doing all it can to learn from the outage, but the Shetland MSP was still not happy.

A BT spokesman said: “Following the outage affecting parts of Orkney and Shetland last weekend, we have carried out a full technical review, rerouted key links and are planning longer-term work to minimise the risks and impact of any future incidents.

“While incidents of this nature are rare, we cannot guarantee a fault-free infrastructure and this is the case UK-wide.

“That said, we’re doing everything we can to learn from this and make sure there is no repetition. We apologise once again for the disruption caused.”

Scott responded: “Would Glasgow or the capital of Scotland accept the fact that 999 emergency calls may be impossible through a phone fault? I doubt it.

“There does not appear enough back up or a Plan B. I do not see why people in Shetland should be left wondering whether the 999 number will work or not.

“It must and I am asking all the emergency services to come together and insist on that. That is what we pay our taxes for; safety and security in the very rare moment of absolute need.”

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