[Updated 26th March} Scottish Ministers and MSPs have been responding to the ongoing emergency situation in Kintyre and Arran with widescale loss of power.
The Transport Minister, Keith Brown, has visited Arran today, commending the multi-agency response to the crisis; and Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, says that the Scottish G0vernment is talking to the National Farmers Union Scotland [NFUS], aware of farmers’ anxieties that this is all happening in the lambing season.
Labour Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, herself a crofter’s daughter,is praising the emergency services and utility companies for their efforts in Argyll and Arran in dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst winter storms in many years.
She has included in her appreciation the efforts of all those at the sharp end – ‘particularly SSE and their 300 Linesmen and Engineers, who are all battling atrocious weather conditions to make sure that all those resident in, visiting or on business in the Argyll & Bute area are accounted for and kept as safe as possible after one of the worst storms in many years has battered the area over the last few days’.
She says: ‘I understand there are drifts 15 feet deep in areas of Argyll & Bute, roads are blocked, communities are cut off and many hundreds are without power. However it is at times like these that we stick together, look out for each other and a real sense of community shines through. We should acknowledge the efforts of all the emergency services, SSE and all others who are striving to aid or support those affected by the aftermath of this storm’.
Rhoda Grant has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament, recognising the efforts of all concerned. This reads:
‘That the Parliament acknowledges and appreciates the efforts of all in the emergency services and utility companies, particularly staff from SSE, who have been working in atrocious weather conditions throughout Argyll and Bute and on Arran in particular, to ensure the safety of those resident, visiting or on business in these communities, after three days of severe wintery storms battered the area: understands that many thousands of households are still without power: notes that SSE have 300 linesmen and Engineers in the area, further recognises the efforts of the Police, Fire, Ambulance and Coastguard staff and further acknowledges the community spirit in the affected areas as all pull together to ensure that those affected are kept warm, dry and safe.’
Local SNP MSP, Michael Russell, says: ‘I have spoken today to Cllr John Semple in Campbeltown and to a number of other people on the ground. The situation remains very serious but everyone is full of admiration for the work of the SSE teams , Council staff and the emergency services. There is also much comment about the community spirit that is prevailing and the mutual help that is being provided.
‘I have also been in touch with the SGORR team – the people in the Scottish Government who provide emergency support and help with resilience and who have been liaising closely with the Council, SSE and the police. I have passed on to them issues raised with me by Cllr Semple about South Kintyre and Campbeltown , and concerns raised by him and others about Carradale where there have been particular difficulties arising from lack of fuel , gas and heating for three days now. Work is being done to try and alleviate these problems and to ensure that information is given to all communities as quickly as possible about the restoration of power and telephones , what areas are likely to get service back and when.
‘My office and I remain keen to help in any way possible and will offer whatever support we can to individuals, communities and those working so hard in such difficult conditions.’
[Update 26th March] Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP , Jamie McGrigor, says: ‘This is the worst weather to hit Kintyre for decades and has created a real emergency.
‘I have been kept appraised of the situation over the weekend by Councillor Donald Kelly who has made me aware of the blocked roads, huge snow drifts and loss of electricity which people have suffered.
‘I deeply sympathise with local residents and commend the work of the council and the emergency services who have been first class, and also the numerous volunteers who have come to the rescue of those in distress. Crises like these can bring out the best in spirit and deed.
‘I have emailed the Transport and Energy Ministers of the Scottish Government to reinforce their awareness of the urgency of the situation and will attempt to ask a topical question today in Parliament at 2pm on the issue.
‘This emergency has restated the importance of the local hospital in Campbeltown. The Beinn Ghuilean ward has been reopened to accommodate those in distress, as indeed has the centre at Macrihanish which has a generator to keep the elderly and vulnerable warm.
‘I pity the farmers, particularly those with sheep outside and call on Ministers to ensure that the A83 is kept open at all costs so that supplies can get through to the shops and fuel stations.’