Kintyre emergency on 25th March

Updated information for 26th March available here.

[Updated 22.50 below] The A83 still partially blocked, has reopened under convoy.

Lochgilphead Police say that the convoys are moving quite quickly and are operating on a ‘turn up and wait system’. They cannot tell us at the moment whether the convoys are operating in both directions simultaneously – clearly important information for those with journeys to make. We will update on this as soon as we know the situation. [See 09.20 update below]

West Coast Motors buses between Campbeltown and Glasgow are back on the roads, with the first one out at 6.30.

Campbeltown Airport is fully open, under generator power at the terminal, and is expecting two flights today as usual. The first one is delayed at the Glasgow end and is expected in between 09.30 and 09.45. The airport does not yet have the planned weekend flights and so has had a normal weekend, Friday’s flights were unable to leave Glasgow but would have been able to land at Campbeltown had they done so.

MV Hebridean Isles left Campbeltown at 08.00 and is heading for Port Ellen on Islay to pick up the  12.30 sailing to Kennacraig – after which the Islay ferry service will return to normal schedule.

The generators and SSE engineers she delivered to Campbeltown last night are being deployed.

The B842 remains closed at Dalaruan Street in Campbeltown at the A83 Millknowe Road junction.

CalMac’s Tarbert-Portavadie and  Claonaig-Lochranza-Tarbert-Lochranza ferries are operating to schedule.

SSE’s priority is the partial reconnection of as many households as possible from generators; while they work on the major repairs necessary to the network. People are asked to use power sparingly. There have been problems with widespread overuse leading to surges of demand the generators are unable to cope with.

Network repairs will be a particular challenge in respect of the system connecting Kintyre and Arran, with several pylons collapsed at Crossaig on the KIlbrannan Sound in north Kintyre, seeing a few miles of high tension power line on the ground; and access on those roads, the B001 and the B842, still difficult.

Those in remote areas can expect several more days without power of any kind.

This means that it is additionally important to keep an eye on elderly, disabled or troubled neighbours. Anyone making visits to check and assist should, if they have the means, take some hot food and/or drink with them, as it is likely to be needed in these cases.

As of this morning, 3,500 households in Kintyre and 1,500 in Arran were without power.

Update 08.50 – SSE news

SSE engineers started at first light and are now getting some access to damage sites on the network. They say: ‘We have added further resources to our existing team of engineers, linesmen, tree cutters and switchers.’

Update 09.20 – A83 convoy news

Lochgilphead Police have confirmed that the convoy is working on the usual one-way-at-a-time system, with the convoy vehicle turning and coming back again with a convoy in the opposite direction. It is moving quickly and it is convoyed only for a specific section between Kennacraig and Campbeltown. We will update on the specifics of this section as soon as we know.

Police are advising travellers to  be prepared for periods of closure of the road to allow the removal of snow.

Update 09.30 – A83 convoy area

Lochgilphead Police have confirmed that the section of the reopened A83 being convoyed is a one mile section south from Clachan Filling Station.

Update 11.15 – MV Hebridean Isles

The CalMac ferry from the Islay service, MV Hebridean Isles, which made two successive nightly rescue passages round the Mull and into Campbeltown Loch, carrying essential equipment and supplies to the beleaguered town and its immediate hinterland is now back in normal harness. She is docking at Port Ellen in Islay and will run the 12.30 service to Kennacraig on the Kintyre mainland, which will see the Islay service back to normal with two boats.

Update 12,45 – new support resources in Campbeltown and Southend

SSE now has mobile catering vans at Campbeltown’s Victoria Hall and at the Muneroy store in Southend on the Mull. Both are offering free hot food and drinks.  The company hopes to have more catering vans in the area soon.

Campbeltown’s, Islay’s and Arran’s Scottish Hydro retail shop are also open, providing free help and advice to customers.

Update 13.05 – A83 closed for 2 hours and SSE update

As Police and Argyll and Bute Council had warned, the A83 between Kennacraig and Campbeltown has closed for 2 hours to allow the removal of snow from the convoy route.

SSE are also bringing in special vehicles to try to access the Crossaig area where several steel pylons have collapsed. The company is saying that the damage to their network infrastructure is ‘among the worst seen for 30 years with the weight of line icing pressurising the transmission lines around Crossaig where transmission towers were felled by the conditions’.

SSE is bringing in more generators – 15 large generators and 40 smaller sets. Six helicopters are transporting essential equipment like new poles and equipment to inaccessible areas.

Anyone with the means to do so is asked to report on any visible local network damage and on any new loss of power supply. Contact the team on 0800 300 999.

Update 14.00 – Coastguard Rescue Team involvement

The Arran Coastguard Rescue Team has been assisting the recovery efforts and this morning rode shotgun to see school children safely to the ferry at Brodick to cross to the mainland for school.

Update 14.45 – SSE confirm most face another night without power

SSE have confirmed that while they will have reconnected some households in Kintyre and in Arran to the  normal supply, many of the 5,000 still deprived households face another night without power.

It would, however, be overly optimistic to expect that tomorrow will be the end of it. There is clearly a major infrastructural reconstruction job to be done at Crossaig, in replacing the collapsed pylons carrying the high tension power lines serving both stricken areas. Even a temporary fix is not going to be quick.

It would actually be more helpful if SSE were to give an honest best estimate to restoration of this key part of the network – which is their stated priority. This information would enable people without supply to manage their lives in a planned fashion for the duration. At the moment, the sense of living in limbo and literally from hand to mouth is adding to stress.

If for no other reason, an endless series of indications of ‘tomorrow’ – endlessly disappointed – is bad PR.

Update 16.55 – Coastguard Rescue Team support

We have noted above the work of the Arran Coastguard rescue team in safeguarding children going to school this morning. This is only part of the effort being contributed to the response to this emergency from this service.

The Arran Coastguard Rescue Team and other authorities on the island are being assisted from the Ayrshire mainland by the Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team.

And the Carradale Coastguard Rescue Team – on the Kintyre mainland are at work assisting in the hard hit Kintyre peninsula.

Update 22.30 – overnight working

It looks as if SSE engineers are on round the clock shifts – with the company saying that it is hoping, overnight, to reduce the number of households off supply in Kintyre and Arran to around 3,300 from the 5,000 that was still the case this afternoon.

Update 22.50 – Ministerial visit for Kintyre tomorrow

Tomorrow afternoon,Tuesday 26th March, Infrastructure Secretary and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to visit the stoical Kintyre Peninsula, facing a continuing emergency with loss of its power supply.



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10 Responses to Kintyre emergency on 25th March

  1. What would be even better would be to hear SSE admit that they knew the pylons were unsafe/needed replacing and should have already been replaced, but the work was put off until later on this year.

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    • Jo: do you know for a fact that ‘the pylons were unsafe / needed replacing and should have already been replaced, but the work was put off until later this year’? – that’s quite a serious accusation.

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      • My parents who live locally have had discussions with engineers previously (last year I think) who have said that the pylons were condemned and needed replacing. Not an official communique of course, a friendly discussion between a resident and an engineer on site, which would be easily deniable!

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  2. Surely, being informed of the time to replace the damaged stretch of the main steel pylon transmission line at Crossaig probably wouldn’t be that useful to people in Kintyre and Arran, because it’s a major operation and the critical element is the time to set up the many temporary generators that SSE have been bringing in, and which will surely need to provide the capacity to power up both all of Arran and all of Kintyre south of Crossaig – as well as places north of Crossaig suffering from damaged local timber pole distribution lines.

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  3. It will probably take weeks to replace the steel towers and restring the conductors. I’m sure SSE will be making plans for alternate supplies in the short term. It’s obvious they are “pulling out all the stops” to get people back on-supply ASAP. This has to be done safely, of course – no lines can be energised until all faults are fixed and safe working procedures must be followed. They know people are suffering and will be doing their best. That is all they can do, and all customers can expect. Thank you SSE.
    When reconnected, PLEASE don’t waste electricity. You may be on a generator, or being supplied via an alternate circuit so use what you need but try to keep the load down for the benefit of everyone.

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  4. Ministerial visit ? fat lot of use that’s going to be to the cold and hungry residents of Kintyre. People are in need of hot food, warmth, (and a wash)!! not being fobbed off by someone who flies back in the evening to a warm cosy flat in Edinburgh. How about some troops to give the SSE and A&B council guys a hand and maybe get things up and running a bit faster? There’s a lovely big runway at Machrihanish for them to land on. This situation demands manpower and lots of it.

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    • That’s true – up to a point. Troops could clear some minor roads and perhaps find some trapped animals, but troops use resources too, they have to be be fed, watered, sheltered, supplied with machinery and transport and commanded. The roads are best cleared by local efforts, particularly farmers who have the equipment and know how to use it. The power issues can only be fixed by very skilled, trained engineers familiar with the network and the procedures. SSE are bringing in hundreds of those with the machinery, spares and helicopters. It’s tough for those affected, but it will only be short term. This is a VERY rare event, and it’s being sorted. Wait it out!

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  5. I would have liked more information from SSE, their phone helpline made no mention of Carradale being fed from generators as off today and even when they phoned me back twice the girls kept repeating that their was free food available just over in the victoria hall a 30 mile round trip for us!!??
    I had plenty hot food of my own what we needed was to know whether to go and get more fuel for our generation/gas for heating or wait and hope that SSE would supply the village with a backup generator, the switchboard staff I asked just didn’t know, more information please, then we can help ourselves.

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    • This is a key issue which we highlighted yesterday.
      If SSE are straightforward and give honest estimates of what they hope to achieve when, it enables people to plan for what they need and make sure they get it in tie.
      Running on a constant ‘not tonight’ message actually disables folk from managing their own situation as best they can.

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  6. Our power was restored today in Campbeltown. Seems most of the town is now back on BUT there are still ones without in Campbeltown and obviously further afield in the rural areas. Been trying times with two young children and no heating or facilities to cook but thankfully there has been great community spirit and help from neighbours, friends and just about anyone.

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