UK

Moment angry landlord confronts energy minister as he visits village hit by Storm Arwen power cuts

A Government minister was today accosted by an angry landlord while visiting a village where 3,000 households are still without power.

Energy minister Greg Hands was confronted by publican Terr Wood on a visit to St John’s Chapel in Weardale, County Durham – which has been without electricity since Friday after Storm Arwen battered large parts of England and Scotland. 

Nearly 20,000 homes across the UK have been without heating for nearly a week after 100mph gales devastated power lines and uprooted thousands of trees.

Ministers were earlier accused of presiding over a ‘national scandal’ as thousands of homes were forced to endure biting temperatures as low as -6C overnight. 

Mr Wood, owner of the Blue Bell Inn pub, told Mr Hands: ‘What I expect from my government is for it to say ‘where did it go wrong and how do we know it went wrong?’. He also said that residents don’t believe Durham County Council has done enough to help homes hit by power cuts.

Addressing the energy minister, Mr Wood raged: ‘Your role is the local authorities. You have more say over them than we will ever have. What are they doing? Nothing – we are five days into this.’

The Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham insisted that engineers were working hard to reconnect power, with many working 16-hour shifts.

But Mr Wood said: ‘I don’t want to hear that from you. You’re an MP and I want to hear from you that you are going to go back and – to put it bluntly – kick ass.’

The Energy Networks Association told MailOnline that a total of 19,500 properties were still affected this morning. Northern Powergrid said that 11,000 homes in the North of England were still without power, while 5,500 Electricity North West customers remained cut off after Storm Arwen struck last Friday night.

ENW said 900 separate incidents affected 117,000 properties in Cumbria and it was the worst storm damage it had ever seen. 

A tractor tries to help a bus driver today after the vehicle came off the road in icy conditions near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Energy minister Greg Hands was confronted by publican Terr Wood on a visit to St John’s Chapel in Weardale, County Durham – which has been without electricity since Friday

Energy minister Greg Hands was confronted by publican Terr Wood on a visit to St John’s Chapel in Weardale, County Durham – which has been without electricity since Friday

Snow on the ground this morning in the County Durham village of Greatham, between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough

Snow on the ground this morning in the County Durham village of Greatham, between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough

Snow falls on a street in Middlesbrough this morning as sub-zero conditions continue for many parts of the UK

Snow falls on a street in Middlesbrough this morning as sub-zero conditions continue for many parts of the UK

A car drives through snowfall in Middlesbrough this morning as thousands of people remain without power in parts of the UK

A car drives through snowfall in Middlesbrough this morning as thousands of people remain without power in parts of the UK

People wrap up warm as they cross London Bridge in freezing conditions this morning during their commute to work

People wrap up warm as they cross London Bridge in freezing conditions this morning during their commute to work

People cross London Bridge in freezing conditions this morning as cold weather hits the capital

People cross London Bridge in freezing conditions this morning as cold weather hits the capital 

A beautiful sunrise over the River Thames as Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast are seen at dawn this morning

A beautiful sunrise over the River Thames as Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast are seen at dawn this morning

There were also still outages north of the border, with Scottish and Southern Energy Networks having about 3,000 homes still ‘off supply’ this morning. Most properties still without power are in rural areas, and SSEN said its team of 850 field and support staff had restored power to 120,000 homes so far.

Temperatures fell as low as -6.1C (21F) at Cairnwell mountain in the Scottish Highlands this morning, while the chilliest lower-level location in the UK was Pershore in Worcestershire which dropped to -3.1C (26.4F).

The Met Office also issued an ice warning, with up to 2in of snow expected across higher ground in Scotland and the North York Moors – and some flakes even seen as far south as London. 

Tomorrow will be slightly warmer everywhere, with Scotland at 8C (46F), the North West at 10C (50F), North East at 8C (46F), South East at 10C (50F), South West at 13C (55F), Wales at 11C (52F) and Northern Ireland at 8C (46F).

The Met Office has an ice warning for much of Britain today

The Met Office has an ice warning for much of Britain today

It will be a cloudy day in England and Wales tomorrow with outbreaks of rain in the morning, clearing south-eastwards in the afternoon – while there will be brief sunny spells in Scotland, but also showers in the west.

A band of rain will push towards the South East on Saturday morning then sunny spells along with wintry showers in the West. There will be lots of sunshine on Sunday after early wintry showers in coastal areas.

As for a White Christmas, bookmakers Coral said there was a 67 per cent chance of snow falling somewhere in Britain on Christmas Day.

The Met Office’s advance forecast for the festive season states that the weather is ‘likely to become more settled around Christmas and towards New Year with increased chance of overnight frost and fog during clearer spells’.

Cut-off residents in remote areas have resorted to gathering water from streams with pumps not working – and there were calls to send in the Army and declare a major incident to save hundreds of ‘forgotten’ elderly residents.

Some 24 schools in Aberdeenshire remained shut yesterday, while Conservative MP Richard Holden said a rural surgery in his North West Durham constituency had lost £10,000 worth of flu vaccines when its fridges cut out.

Jessica May Teasdale, 35, an architectural ironmonger whose home in Stanley lost power on Friday evening, described the experience as a ‘nightmare’ and said her region has been ‘abandoned’ by the Government.

Ms Teasdale said: ‘It’s a nightmare… we’re inconsolable and scared, are we going to get even more ill to the point where it’s pneumonia? I was in tears this morning, just thinking, ‘is it ever going to end?’

‘Our health is deteriorating each day because we’re constantly in the cold. It feels like we’ve been forgotten about. I mean, not to be sad but I don’t even want to wake up tomorrow.’

Among the residents cut off in North Aberdeenshire is Diana Milligan, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘We’ve had no power since last Friday. No heating, no water, no electricity, no network, no internet, no mobile signal – although the mobile is coming back.

‘We are coping because we’ve got very good neighbours. Actually today it’s snowing so it’s a little bit more complicated but we are coping through generators – friends have leant us generators. 

The Energy Networks Association issued this photograph yesterday of a fallen power line in the snow at an unknown location

The Energy Networks Association issued this photograph yesterday of a fallen power line in the snow at an unknown location

The Energy Networks Association also released this photograph yesterday of workers repairing a broken power line in Britain

The Energy Networks Association also released this photograph yesterday of workers repairing a broken power line in Britain

‘We have managed to power a bit of water into the tanks and we’ve also been able to boost the deep freeze. It won’t need it today, but it has needed it. That way we’re getting by. And we’ve also got an Aga cooker which is trickle fed at the moment.

‘We do have an open fire with some wood, so that’s OK – and lots of layers of clothes. And the neighbours have been absolutely wonderful. We do have to (stay here). We have a smallholding, so we have animals.

Warmest autumn ever for Northern Ireland and third mildest across UK

Northern Ireland enjoyed its warmest autumn on record this year while the rest of the UK experienced the third mildest, according to provisional figures from the Met Office.

Over September, October and November, the mean temperature in the UK was 10.87C (51.57F), and in Northern Ireland the average was 10.95C (51.71F), forecasters said.

England had its fourth warmest autumn since records began in 1884, with a mean temperature of 11.64C (52.95F).

Meanwhile, Scotland experienced the third warmest with an average temperature of 9.48C (49.06F), while Wales also saw the third warmest at 11.18C (52.12F).

Dr Mark McCarthy, of the National Climate Information Centre, described November as a markedly ‘mild and dry month’ for all areas except the far north west.

He said: ‘Although many will remember November for the impacts of Storm Arwen, particularly in the North East, the month as a whole has been fairly dry in many areas, with slightly above average temperatures for the period as well.

‘A mild and dry month are the main takeaways from November 2021, with the exception of the far north west, which had above average rainfall.’

For Northern Ireland, the unusually warm autumn followed the nation’s third warmest summer on record, during which a new maximum temperature was set.

The record was broken when the mercury hit 31.3C (88.34F) at Castlederg in County Tyrone during July.

September was also the second warmest on record for the UK, and was followed by a warm and wet October which saw mean temperatures rise 1.4C above average.

Most of the UK experienced a slightly drier autumn than usual, with 93% of the average rain falling across the period.

However some northern areas did experience wetter weather, including Orkney where more than a third more of its average rain was recorded at 480.6mm.

 

‘It’s nobody’s fault and the electricity board are walking around the clock trying to get everybody back and using generators to get villages on power. I cannot tell you the devastation of the woodlands around here – the trees down.’ 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng promised to do ‘everything I can’ to ensure power was restored before Christmas. But he warned devastating weather events like Storm Arwen could become more frequent due to climate change.

Dr Lily Fulton-Humble, who lives near Alnwick in Northumberland and has a seven-week-old baby and a sick toddler, told the BBC her family was ‘losing the stamina’ to endure further nights without power.

‘It’s pretty cold – and when you’re feeding a baby every two hours it’s even colder,’ she said.

Linda and Paul Dunk, who are in their 70s and live near the village of Torphins in Aberdeenshire, said they had been wearing five layers of clothes and cooking on a camping stove. ‘Slowly this building is getting colder and colder,’ Mrs Dunk said. ‘We’re desperate.’

Steven Bridgett, Tory councillor for Rothbury in Northumberland, said: ‘This should have been declared a major incident and then we could have got the Army mobilised.

Energy regulator Ofgem yesterday said it would be ‘looking into how the storm has been handled, including the resilience of GB’s power infrastructure for extreme weather.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron told the Commons ‘at least 7,000 homes’ in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency remained without power, with some facing another week of blackouts.

Saying they felt ‘forgotten’ about, he asked Mr Kwarteng: ‘Will he today task the Army to provide the support for the engineers on the ground in Cumbria to speed up fixing the problem?’ 

He also pressed for every affected community in Cumbria to receive generators.

Mary Kelly Foy, Labour MP for Durham City, said the ongoing power outages are a ‘national scandal’, while Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris branded the response ‘lamentable’.

Mr Holden said a rural surgery in his North West Durham constituency had lost £10,000 worth of flu vaccines when its fridges lost power. 

‘There are some very isolated communities who have been told it may be a very long time before they can get full electricity,’ he said.

‘Can he do everything possible to ensure they are reconnected well before Christmas?’ 

Mr Kwarteng replied: ‘Being without power until Christmas is simply unacceptable, I’ll say that publicly, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.’

He added: ‘Clearly, Storm Arwen was an event the likes of which we haven’t seen for certainly 60 years since the record starts. We have to be prepared for similarly extreme, difficult weather conditions in the future. We have to make sure that our system is resilient.’

He said it was ‘unacceptable’ that people were left waiting up to two hours to get through to a power cut emergency phone number over the weekend. 

A fallen tree in the snow at Ullswater in the Lake District, shown in a photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree in the snow at Ullswater in the Lake District, shown in a photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Cragside in Northumberland, shown in a photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Cragside in Northumberland, shown in a photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Wray Castle in the Lake District, as shown in this photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Wray Castle in the Lake District, as shown in this photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Bodnant Garden in North Wales, as shown in this photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

A fallen tree at Bodnant Garden in North Wales, as shown in this photograph issued by the National Trust yesterday

Northern Powergrid denies Tory MP’s claim it refused military aid offer 

Northern Powergrid has denied claims by Conservative MP Richard Holden North West Durham that it declined an offer of military assistance as thousands remain without power due to Storm Arwen.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, the North West Durham MP said: ‘My understanding is that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy offered military aid to the civil authorities – MACA – this weekend, but that Northern Powergrid refused it.’

A Northern Powergrid spokesman said that ‘no offer of military assistance was made and, therefore, no refusal given’. She added: ‘Early on Saturday morning, we participated in an industry mutual aid call. Through this voluntary arrangement, we have utilised specialist engineering resources and equipment from UK Power Networks, Northern Ireland Electricity and National Grid Transmission, with their teams helping us restore power to customers after the impact of Storm Arwen.

‘We have a well established and practised protocol of participating in Local Resilience Forums during major incidents and this is the process where such a request would usually be made or assistance offered. We have made due checks and can confirm that no offer was made or refused.’

According to the Energy Networks Association, electricity has been restored to 97 per cent of the properties originally cut off.

But it said it would be at least the end of the week – seven days after the devastating storm – before it is back on for many others. 

Isolated properties were proving hard to reach amid ‘catastrophic’ damage to the electricity network, it said, with 100 poles snapped in half at just one site.

Welfare centres and hot food have been provided, with energy companies working with emergency services, local authorities and the British Red Cross.

In Scotland, Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) said it hoped most people would see the lights back on today. 

However, it warned that a full week since the storm could pass before all homes are reached.

Graeme Keddie, SSEN director of corporate affairs told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘We are confident we have a handle on what we can restore in the next couple of days.

‘We are looking at making good progress and expect it will be the last final few homes on Friday.’ 

SP Energy Networks said repair crews were working through the night in the Borders and hoped to have the power back on for all customers by this morning.  

Storm Arwen is continuing to play havoc with education in Aberdeenshire, with some pupils still expected to be out of the classroom tomorrow.

A total of 24 nursery, primary and secondary schools were fully or partially shut yesterday after all 170 in Aberdeenshire were closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Some schools are still without power, while others cannot be reached because transport services are unavailable.

Crudie Primary, by Turriff, is not safe to occupy because a fallen pylon has still not been removed. 

Pupils in S3 at Turriff Academy were told to stay off yesterday and S4-S6 pupils will miss today or tomorrow due to staff shortages. 

Customers are entitled to £70 for the first 24 hours of power loss – or 48 hours if conditions are classed as severe – plus a further £70 for each extra 12 hours without electricity, but there is a cap of £700.

Moment farmer frantically digs sheep out of 10ft snow drift in ‘brutal’ weather after Storm Arwen 

  • Kate and Nev Barker battled blizzard to rescue sheep on their Staffordshire farm 
  • Couple worked for hours to find their missing flock after Storm Arwen struck
  • Three ewes were finally discovered after getting stuck under a 10ft snowdrift 
  • Temperatures plummeted to 24.8F (-4C) as snow and ice followed on weekend

By Jacob Thorburn For MailOnline

Dramatic footage has captured the moment a farming couple were forced to dig their sheep out of a 10ft snowdrift during a snap blizzard caused by Storm Arwen. 

Kate and Nev Barker worked for hours to find their missing flock on Saturday, November 27, after heavy snow hit their farm in Staffordshire farm, near the Peak District. 

They realised three ewes were entombed under the snow and had to act quickly to save them.

Farmers Kate and Nev Barker worked for hours to find their missing sheep on Saturday, November 27, after heavy snow hit their Staffordshire farm near to the Peak District

Farmers Kate and Nev Barker worked for hours to find their missing sheep on Saturday, November 27, after heavy snow hit their Staffordshire farm near to the Peak District

Dramatic footage captures the moment Nev Barker pulled one of three Herdwick ewes out of a 10ft snowdrift during a snap blizzard caused by Storm Arwen

Dramatic footage captures the moment Nev Barker pulled one of three Herdwick ewes out of a 10ft snowdrift during a snap blizzard caused by Storm Arwen

Temperatures plummeted to around 24.8F (-4C) over the weekend as a thick blanket of snow and ice smothered much of the Midlands and north-western England. 

In the footage, Nev can be seen battling through the ‘brutal’ weather as he desperately digs a hole for a confused sheep to escape through.

He encourages the animal towards him, clapping and shouting: ‘Come on, come on’, but the couple’s efforts appear to be in vain as it remains slumped on the ground. 

After several minutes, the ewe finally emerges. Its ice-encrusted wool indicates it had been trapped under the mountain of snow for several hours.

Kate, 49, and Nev, 48, run a smallholding near Leek, and own 50 sheep which are kept for breeding and wool.

As Storm Arwen rocked northern England at the end of last week, the pair were initially unperturbed about their flock of Herdwicks, which are renowned for being hardy. 

But on Saturday morning they realised that after 10 feet of snow fell during the night, only 37 of their sheep were accounted for.

Nev frantically digs in the snow to free the entombed sheep at the smallholding near Leek

Nev frantically digs in the snow to free the entombed sheep at the smallholding near Leek

Nev calls 'Come on, come on' to the sheep but the couple's efforts initially appear to be in vain

Nev calls ‘Come on, come on’ to the sheep but the couple’s efforts initially appear to be in vain

After the pair woke up on Saturday they realised that after 10 feet of snow fell during the night, only 37 of their prize four-legged possessions were accounted for

After the pair woke up on Saturday they realised that after 10 feet of snow fell during the night, only 37 of their prize four-legged possessions were accounted for

After walking around their acreage Nev and Kate became increasingly worried for the missing members of the flock.

‘The access into our fields was just thick with drifts,’ Kate said.

‘We were up to our waists, it was that deep we were just sinking. Panic set in.

‘We clambered over to the sheds and found most of them huddled there.

‘We dug the back of the shed out to gain access, so the flock could get some relief from the elements, and some hay and water. Your instinct just kicks in.’

But some of the flock were still unaccounted for, so the pair used a crook to poke the larger snow drifts (above) looking for their sheep

But some of the flock were still unaccounted for, so the pair used a crook to poke the larger snow drifts (above) looking for their sheep

Nev Barker (pictured) rescues one of his Herdwick flock during the dangerous Storm Arwen conditions

Nev Barker (pictured) rescues one of his Herdwick flock during the dangerous Storm Arwen conditions

Another group of rams (pictured) - only visible because of their horns poking out the top of the drifts - also had to be dug from a similar situation in a different field

Another group of rams (pictured) – only visible because of their horns poking out the top of the drifts – also had to be dug from a similar situation in a different field

But some were still missing, so the pair used a crook to poke the larger snow drifts looking for their sheep.

They eventually found three ewes entombed in a drift that was more than 10ft high.

Video footage shows Nev digging out the first ewe with his hands, before enticing her out.

It took several minutes before she was brave enough to leave the igloo she had been stuck in.

Two further sheep were huddled behind her and all three were taken to the sheds to recuperate. Amazingly they were all unharmed.

A sheep with snow-encrusted fur is rescued by Nev after getting stuck underneath 10ft high piles of snow caused by Storm Arwen

A sheep with snow-encrusted fur is rescued by Nev after getting stuck underneath 10ft high piles of snow caused by Storm Arwen

Conditions did not return to normal until Tuesday, November 30 after Storm Arwen causes 10ft high snowdrifts

Conditions did not return to normal until Tuesday, November 30 after Storm Arwen causes 10ft high snowdrifts

Another group of rams – only visible because of their horns poking out the top of the drifts – also had to be dug from a similar situation in a different field.

Nev is a joiner while Kate was formerly a countryside ranger.

Their smallholding is on the edge of the Peak District National Park, where temperatures dropped to 24.8F (-4C) over the weekend.

In fact, things didn’t really thaw until three days later on Tuesday, November 30.

Nev said they treated their sheep like members of the family – and couldn’t bear to see them stuck.

He added: ‘It’s literally like you’ve got your pet dog stuck in the snow, and all you want to do is get them out and make sure they’re ok.’

‘The conditions were brutal,’ Kate added. ‘But amazingly they’re OK and now running around the fields like nothing ever happened.’

Former countryside ranger Kate Barker poses with one of her beloved Herdwick Sheep at the couple's Staffordshire farm

Former countryside ranger Kate Barker poses with one of her beloved Herdwick Sheep at the couple’s Staffordshire farm

Nev Barker (pictured) works as a joiner. On Saturday, he crawled on his hands and knees to rescue sheep that had got stuck under a barrage of snow

Nev Barker (pictured) works as a joiner. On Saturday, he crawled on his hands and knees to rescue sheep that had got stuck under a barrage of snow

After walking around their acreage Nev and Kate became increasingly worried for the missing members of the flock. Pictured: A sheep sticks its head out from under a pile of snow

After walking around their acreage Nev and Kate became increasingly worried for the missing members of the flock. Pictured: A sheep sticks its head out from under a pile of snow


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