[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.