[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.