Energy Secretary says power cuts ‘unacceptable’ nine days after Storm Arwen

ITV News Correspondent Ellie Pitt reports on the disruption resulting from the power outages caused by Storm Arwen over a week ago

Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that it is “completely unacceptable” that some people are still without power nine days after Storm Arwen hit.

More than 3,000 households in North-East England are having to cope without power again on Sunday for a 10th night in a row.

The majority of the impacted homes from the storm are in the north-east of England, according to the Energy Networks Association.

Kwasi Kwarteng speaks to the media about power cuts caused by Storm Arwen. Credit: PA

On a visit to Durham to survey the damage done by the storm earlier on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng told reporters: "As I said 99.5% of people are back on, now for the 4,000 I think it's completely unacceptable that they are still off power, that is why I have instituted a review into whether the companies have invested enough.

"Ofgem are looking at this and of course there will be some sort of enforcement measure to make sure the companies are held to account, that's very important."

  • Kwasi Kwarteng said Ofgem is looking at whether to enforce action on energy companies who have still not supplied homes with power

Mr Kwarteng also warned power firms that the government will review their operations following continuing outages.

He told the PA news agency: “I had an experience on August 9 2019 when a million people in the South East were commuting and they had a power outage.

“Immediately after that we had a review and we looked at the system and we held the transport and train companies’ feet to the fire and we have got a more resilient system.

“That’s exactly what I want to happen this time.

“We will have a review, we will see if the distributor companies have enough infrastructure, we may even have enforcement action if necessary.”

Members of the armed forces check on overhead power cables Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said on Sunday that power had been restored to all 135,000 homes in the north of Scotland which were affected by the “once in a generation” weather event. "In the 35 years that I have worked for SSEN, I can honestly say that this is the worst storm I have ever experienced," Mark Rough, Director of Operations for SSEN, said.

"The extensive damage caused to our network by Storm Arwen has been unprecedented in some areas, with the North East region experiencing the equivalent of almost two years’ worth of overhead line faults in just one 12-hour period." Despite progress made in restoring power across certain areas in Britain, Storm Barra is still set to hit the UK on Tuesday, bringing a further round of strong winds and rain. As a result, yellow wind weather warnings are in place across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with yellow snow warnings in place in Southern and Western Scotland.

Jim Muir, who lives at Honeyneuk Farm, Maud, Aberdeenshire, was left without power for over a week following Storm Arwen. Credit: PA

On Saturday, gusts of between 35-50 miles per hour battered the country overnight, with temperatures plummeting to below zero in parts of Scotland.

As well as weather warnings, the Met Office predicts further wet and windy weather heading into next week, with poor weather conditions continuing in areas already impacted by Storm Arwen.

Met Office meteorologist Rachel Ayers said: “It will be a relatively nice day today, but overnight tonight it will be windy.

“Temperatures, with the wind and cloud cover, should stay up tonight.

“That should help things a little bit, but we are expecting some more changeable and unsettled weather.

“This unsettled weather isn’t going to help areas that have been impacted by Storm Arwen too much.”

SSEN said it is actively tracking and monitoring the weather front that is due to move through the country on Tuesday and will move resources and equipment to locations it believes will see the worst of the weather.

Soldiers from the Royal Lancers knocking on doors in Eggleston, County Durham Credit: PA Media/MoD

The Ministry of Defence said that 297 personnel from the British Army and Royal Marines were still providing support to civil authorities and conducting door-to-door checks on vulnerable people on Sunday morning.

On Saturday, Boris Johnson said he had held calls with those leading the response to Storm Arwen and the government is ready to further support the recovery work “in any way we can”.

The long delays have prompted energy regulator Ofgem to warn it will take enforcement action against network companies which failed to restore power to customers quickly enough.

It has also agreed with firms to lift the £700 cap on compensation which could be offered to those stuck without power.

The change will allow those affected to claim £70 for each 12-hour period they have no electricity.