Kintyre suffering badly from impact of snow and high winds

See 25th March reports here.

[Updated below - 24th March] 5,000 folk in Kintyre have been without power now for two days. The A83 has been closed since yesterday morning with weather-related driving incidents and  deep snowdrifts between Tarbert and Campbeltown – and will be for some time. The Kennacraig to Clachan section has been particularly badly hit.

There are power cuts outstanding in Campbeltown, Carradale, Gigha, Islay, Port Appin, and Ardnagowan.

Transport Minister Keith Brown has said that the Scottish Government ‘has also asked the UK Government for a derogation to HGV drivers’ hours to ensure that fuel, food and gritting salt can be delivered without delay once roads are open in the affected areas. This is of particular importance to the farming community, before delays in animal feed deliveries cause a welfare issue.’

SSE are reporting two steel pylons carrying power lines collapsed at Crossaig, on the B842 between Skipness and Carradale in Kintyre. They say this is due to the weight of ice – a virtually unknown event here. Crossaig is where the new subsea interconnector from the Hunterston B power station comes ashore.

SSE have been trying to get generators into Campbeltown all day but have been frustrated by the snow drifts closing the roads.  C0uncil snow ploughs are working flat out and we understand from reader Robert Wakeham that there is a snow blower assisting contractors working to clear the Clachan section.

Robert Wakeham has also spotted a CalMac ferry already south of Gigha, showing her destination as Campbeltown. The assumption, pending confirmation, is that she is carrying the SSE generators and catering units for Campbeltown that were stuck at Kennacraig earlier, unable to use the A83.

Argyll and Bute Council have had half a dozen snow ploughs working to clear the A83 of heavy snow drifts at Clachan since yesterday and are warning of power lines lying close to the road in Kintyre – we assume this includes Crossaig – and advising people to keep well clear of these lines, which SSE are monitoring.

SSE have restored power to some Kintyre communities today but they and the Council expect the rest to endure another night without power.

CalMac’s Tarbert Portavadie ferry was taken off passenger duty today and dedicated to getting generators into the stricken Isle of Arran.

CalMac has advised travelers that both Kennacraig and Port Ellen terminals are still without power & telephones. It seems odd that the asset owning company, CMAL [Caledonian MacBrayne Assets Ltd] does not equip terminals with generators.

Elsewhere in Argyll

A83 – there has been a fuel spillage in both directions between the B838 Church Road junction in Arrochar and the B828 junction in Cairndow. Drivers are advised to approach with care.

A82 – there are hazardous driving conditions between the B8074 junction in Bridge of Orchy and the A85 junction in Tyndrum – due to a blizzard and strong winds.

A82 – there are hazardous driving conditions in Glencoe due to strong winds adn poice advise use of an alternative route.

A85  – there are hazardous driving conditions and the road is just passable in both directions in Dalmally at the B8077 junction – due to snow and strong winds.

A85 – at Tyndrum and A898 at Erskine Bridge – these remain subject to high winds and, at Tyndrum, snow. The Tyndrum area has been affected since yesterday; and the Erskine Bridge since Friday. Drivers of high sided vehicles are advised to drive with care.

Yesterday evening a helicopter was seen and heard struggling against the wind strength, flying low over Slockavullin, near Kilmartin and low over Ardfern in the Craignish peninsula, in a westerly direction. Observers in both places were afraid it was at risk. It returned over Ardfern about an hour later. Our assumption is that this is likely to have been an SAR flight from HMS Gannet – but with emergency services working around the clock at the moment we cannot yet confirm this.

A yellow helicopter was also seen today, travelling N-S down the Kintyre peninsula – but again we are as yet unable to discover whether this was a rescue helicopter or a TV crew’s photographic sweep over beleaguered Kintyre.

Update 21.45 The MV Hebridean Isles is currently rounding the Mull of Kintyre, just passing Rubha Chlachan – we don’t envy her that passage in these easterly winds.

Update 22.10: SSE say they have put 7 large generators on the MV Hebridean Isles and these will arrive in Campbeltown later tonight. They are to be connected as soon as possible and should see a large number of customers in the south of Kintyre restored tomorrow morning – bu the 5,000 powerless customers will be off supply overnight.

Update 22.40: MV Hebridean Isles went ‘outside’ the Isle of Sanda and is now north of that island, dong 12.5 knots and heading for Davaar Island at the entrance to Campbeltown Loch.

Update 22.45: SSE are now saying that three steel towers have collapsed under ice at Crossaig; and that: ‘Repair of this line is an absolute priority for us although we are currently hampered by the main road being closed due to drifting snow. Snow blowers have been taken in to help and they should make good progress tomorrow morning.’ In terms of those households still without power tonight, SSE say that they ‘will  be endeavouring to get the vast majority back on during Sunday’. This would suggest that some may not even get power restored tomorrow.

Update: 23.30: The Hebridean Isles is now well into Campbeltown Loch, down to 5.2 knots and not far off berthing at the harbour. Campbeltown can look forward to power in the morning – although it is not clear yet whether the two mobile catering units made it on to the ferry.

Update 24th March 09.00; See latest information on today’s article here: Some relief for Kintyre but roads still closed.

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55 Responses to Kintyre suffering badly from impact of snow and high winds

  1. It’s more like 10,000 people in total who have no power.

    Campbeltown itself has 5,000, plus all the surrounding villages and communities are also without. Phones are not working either in some places. Mobile phones are out too because the masts have no power. Some places have no water, because pumping stations have lost power supplies. Shops are struggling too, inevitably.

    A very worrying situation, with some saying it could take another two days or more to get people reconnected.

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    • The SSEPD website talks of 5,000 ‘customers’ – so, assuming that there’s an average of maybe 2 or 3 people per ‘customer’, that’s between 10 and 15 thousand people without mains electricity in Kintyre. And their latest update at 9pm sat evening states that ‘so far’ 3 steel towers have been found collapsed near Crossaig; this cautious wording (and the addition of a third tower since the previous update at 2pm sat afternoon) suggests that there might be more yet to be found.

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    • There might some more questions in the fullness of time, with the Tangy, Beinn an Tuirc and Deucheran Hill windfarms all to the south of Crossaig, was there no power in the system at all?? And if the power supply to Kintyre suffers from another such event in the relatively near future, would there be any way of turning the Lussa reservoir into a pumped storage system? I’m sure there’d be a chorus of ‘can’t be done’ – but I wonder?

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      • Robert. A pumped storage scheme requires two lochs, one well above the other, preferably hundreds of feet. There is no such loch near Lussa. Tangy is the nearest (only) loch nearby, but is quite small and only a few metres lower.

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      • Windfarm control systems aren’t usually capable of maintaining baseload and are often specifically designed to switch off if the baseload supply is disrupted to prevent the control equipment being overloaded. They could be made to provide power in this situation, but it’s not seen as a priority and would cost extra. They may also have switched off due to a surfeit of wind or loss of communication with their control centre.

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        • Maybe priorities will be reviewed, and I wonder if the technique of using live hv power cables as communications carriers in some places caused SSE any extra problems when the Crossaig pylons failed?

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          • wires down and broken would suggest that all facilities carried by said wires would be lost; stick to things you understand like roads and ferries. Why not investigate the possibility of these wires being adjusted to be warm therefore no ice no fall? Voltage, current, resistance and heat,all parameters that could be juggled??

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      • I was just beginning to wonder myself about the wind power stations and why they could not supply the local area.

        Also wonder if any have been damaged by the wind and snow?

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          • My understanding is that this would mean that engineers would be working on a live network – the very reason that domestic renewables systems have to shut down during power cuts. Electrocuting engineers will not help speed things up…. There may be someone more technical out there with a better answer however.

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          • Bits of the network are isolated before they are worked on, so the question – in an area as large as Kintyre – is whether local hydro and wind sources can power up the sections that aren’t damaged, or which can be repaired fairly quickly, rather than having to wait for extensive repairs at Crossaig regardless of the condition of the local networks.

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          • Every time a new wind farm is proposed we’re told how many homes it will be able to power. Perhaps the honest truth is exactly none, because it produces the wrong sort of electricity?

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    • IfE is in the wrong job. He should be a Hydro engineer. Instead of making stupid remarks he should let the real engineers get on with their job. I’m sure they know it better than he does. He should be congratulating them for working in those conditions.
      The weather on Kintyre and Arran seems to have been similar to the weather here in Galloway with 60mph winds and driving snow. Luckily our power is back on but in this wind I feel sorry for anybody who has to work outside or sit in a cold powerless house.

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      • Nothing “stupid” about suggesting a local power station supplies a local area , it happened as routine in previous difficult periods . My information is that the Lussa power station is not generating at present – quite astonishing given the situation .

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        • I recollect a situation a few years ago when quite a few of SSE’s smaller hydro power plants (including Lochgair, I think) were ‘resting’ because they were of an age when they needed investment to overhaul them – and nothing happened until the government provided the money (our money).
          At the time, this didn’t seem to be questioned by the media, but I did wonder if SSE was milking the public commitment to ‘green’ energy.
          Wouldn’t it be wise to suggest to Marchant & co that any more neglect of our basic hydro electric assets would result in those plants being forfeit without compensation?

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  2. Maybe the yellow helicopter was heading from Perth to check the damage to power lines in Kintyre, because today the Traffic Scotland radio is reporting that the SSE helicopter is going to be used to inspect snow blockages on the roads in Kintyre as well.
    Maybe we’ll be getting some pictures later today.

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  3. Transerv have Tweeted to say they are having problems with mobile phone comms in Argyll – most mobile phone base stations have limited backup in the event of loss of mains supply and many have none at all. People have too much faith in mobile phones!

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    • Most of us have problems with mobile ‘phone coverage across Argyll and Bute. Yes, we are all becoming more dependent on them so why is there no concerted effort by companies to provide a better service? In critical times they can save lives.

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    • By a strange coincidence the stretch of this power line south from Crossaig to the Carradale switchyard is due to be replaced by a larger capacity line built alongside the existing route as part of the HVDC undersea link from Hunterston to Crossaig.

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  4. Karl, to be fair – they have started burying the cables because even they can see, in the long run, it will be cheaper.

    They even helicopter out, at great expense, the creosote-ridden poles because if they left them they would leach nasty things into the ground. Not environmentally friendly.

    However, they then sell them to farmers as draw-poles….

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    • They buried the Lochgilphead end of the new line from Inverneil (maybe because it had to pass through a built up area?) – but what was more surprising was the burial of the new line on toward Port Anne through the forest behind Lochgilphead.

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  5. The 10.30pm update from SSEPD underlines the difficulties of getting to grips with widespread faults and damage in such a large area with so many obstacles to access.
    They’re bringing in additional repair teams, and talk of several days yet to reconnect some places, but it looks as if they’ve got a marathon task.

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    • The fact that multiple pylons have collapsed is obviously a large repair task in itself, but the fact they have collapsed at all suggests something like an ice storm has occurred to grossly overload the pylons to a sufficient extent that the weight of ice and snow plus gusts of wind has brought them down; ordinarily ice and snow accumulation just brings down wires. This is not something I’ve ever heard of happening in the UK, more a phenomenon of the USA; I hesitate to say it’s unprecedented, but it certainly seems unusual. Such conditions may have overloaded and damaged other pylons as well, if many more need replacing SSE are in for a long haul.

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  6. Day 4 without electricity , roads a joke , the response to this emergency by SNP run Argyll & Bute Council and the SNP administration in Edinburgh has made George W Bush’s handling of the crisis in New Orleans look fantastic .

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    • What ignorant, embittered, rubbish. The Bush baby didn’t ‘handle’ the New Orleans crisis, he flew over and gawped at it before leaving at least some of the response to useless political cronies he’d invited to join his gravy train.
      Whatever your political affiliations, you insult the council and should hide your head in shame.

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      • “What ignorant, embittered, rubbish” you ignorant twork, don’t you recognise “pathos” as one of the Scotsperson’s main tools in satire, why not stick to road running meep!meep! and trolling without comment. alpha/hotel

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          • you do admirably with your name ,so you are an identifiable idiot who won’t discuss the crap you post, I am sokay newsroom know who I am ,I would suggest that you invent a new name, what about “road runner” “the CalMac Fairy” “the Scandinavian answer to A83″ or “Irritating know all Troll” You hijacked one of my first posts on here to air your own grievances, I don’t like parasites so foxtrot oscar when you see sokay ok! PS using your vast file of the human experience how come you relate Buckfast to oafism. Buckfast with the correct fruit,ice etc makes lovely Scottish sangria. Must congratulate on your one handed typing skills.

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          • You beauty, you’re probably the reason why some real people come on here. Any way could you possibly tell us when power will be restored here?? there was a question in my last post! answers are not usually forthcoming from trolls

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      • John in Kintyre – I’ve never been known for my diplomatic skills. But, really your nasty, snide, sexist post

        “Islay for ever is an old embittered Tory or a middle age woman going through the menopause and has really bad hormonal problems…”

        that, puts anything I’ve EVER spouted into the ‘really-not-so-bad-after-all’ category.

        What a disgusting, horrible post.

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    • Islay for ever

      What absolute cobblers you talk.
      I was in NI at the same time –the whole of Belfast was in darkness on several occasion’s during Thursday and Friday. Nothing to do with snp or George w Bush or in NI terms due to Sinn Fein or the Ulster Unionists–It is called severe weather although the amount of hot air emanating from Islay should help.
      How many fatalities in New Orleans?? hundreds? over a 1000 people?

      Islay you must get a grip on reality, stop taking the tablets and get help.

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  7. Who privatised the power industry? Where is Ofgem based? The Scottish Government have many flaws, but this one isn’t their baby.

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  8. If it’s all down to “Westminster” it makes me wonder why Keith Brown is flying overhead , Richard Lochhead is sweet calling the NFUS and Michael Russell is blethering on about SGORR and all the rest of it- see Politicians’ Response…..
    It is said in Campbeltown that there when local lorry drivers who had been stuck in their truck cabs for days pointed out some of the shortcomings in the Council’s response to a local SNP Councillor in Tarbert , said councillor erupted and gave them a dressing down . Many more votes lost for separation according to eye witnesses .

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    • I’m not making it up; the power industry was privatised in 1994/95 and OFGEM, the electricity and gas regulator set up in the wake of the privatisation, is based in London. How can this in any way have been influenced by the Scottish Government, which didn’t exist until 1999?

      One person’s self-important local councillor hectoring hardworking truck drivers is another person’s hardworking local councillor sticking up for a roads department dealing with the biggest snowfall in Argyll since 1963 when truck drivers are wingeing about the road not being opened instantly.

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    • Maybe you can get wee ruthie to draw a line in the snaw………..maybe she can call (me) dave and see if he answers before hanging her out to dry again

      GO RUTHIE…………….

      The LIE-DUMBS are setting up a commission by ra way

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    • IfE
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21929093
      Just to prove it snow’s in other areas of the UK –based on your other nonsense Cameron and Clegg should resign forthwith–
      not about the weather but sacking the air rescue teams and letting the US owned Bristow take over –no doubt a few extra pounds will find their way to the tory & Lib lies fundraisers

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      • The BBC has been making a big thing of Bristow being US owned, but Bristow helicopters have been kicking around the North Sea ever since the early days of the oil bonanza – and sometimes involved in rescue work, as far as I recollect.

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