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News / Westside communities unlikely to be reconnected before Monday

SSEN Distribution managed to restore power to 750 households over the last 24 hours

Photo: SSEN Distribution

AROUND 750 homes in Burravoe, Whiteness, Girlsta and Skellister have been reconnected by SSEN engineers after what has been described as unprecedented damage to the overhead electric network following heavy snow fall and the icing of power lines on Monday.

That leaves still around 1,700 properties in Westside communities, Voe and Brae without any electricity for a fourth night.

SSEN said in its latest update on Thursday evening that it was doing all it can to rebuild the isles’ electricity network, and would be out again at first light on Friday.

Helicopter surveys and foot patrols have now provided engineers with a clear picture of the extent of the damage, enabling teams to segment the network and make progress in restoring customer supplies are by area. This work has been essential to the rebuilding of the network’s ‘backbone’.

Restoration will be achieved by rebuilding and repairing the network, connecting large-scale mobile generation and re-routing the network where extensive works are required, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution said late on Thursday evening.

A timetable provided by the company gives estimated times of restoration:

Photo: SSEN Distribution

SSEN’s head of region Mark Macdonald said: “Alongside an improvement in weather conditions and thanks to the incredible support from Shetland Islands Council and our resilience partners, the severe access issues we faced earlier today have eased.

“This has enabled our teams to have a clearer picture of the significant damage to our network and make good progress in restoring power to our customers.

“We recognise that each day brings new challenges for communities. I’d continue to urge anyone who has any concerns for themselves or others to give our teams a call on 105. I’d also like to remind customers of the welfare locations available, where hot drinks, food and a warm space are combined with an exceptionally strong community spirit.”

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Meanwhile, where power has been resorted and the road cleared, normal life is slowly returning with some schools reopening again on Friday.

Here is a summary of Thursday’s news:

  • Thirteen schools remain closed for a fourth day. The full list including details of disruptions to some school transport can be found here.
  • All main roads are open again, but many side and minor roads remain impassable. The A968 Dales Lees road has reopened.
  • Welfare centres will be open again on Friday in all affected areas – a full list with opening times can be found here.
  • The owners of abandoned cars have been reminded to make arrangement to retrieve their vehicle as they obstruct traffic;
  • SSEN has confirmed that compensation payments to households will be made automatically. More details here.
  • Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has called on the Scottish Government to improve the isles’ communication resilience by pointing out that many households were lacking connectivity during power cuts and hence are unable to access key information.
  • Scottish justice secretary Keith Brown visited Shetland for a few hours on Thursday to chair a local resilience meeting and see the efforts of restoring power for himself. He said: “I met a range of residents at Bixter Hall today and what has struck me most is the huge team effort at play in a set of very difficult circumstances. Everyone is mucking in and helping each other, from making food and keeping each other’s spirits up, to checking on vulnerable members of the community. It really is quite extraordinary.”
The Kergord road remains closed to traffic. Photo: Elaine Falconer

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