Generators installed to prevent future blackouts in North East villages following Storm Arwen

Generator being installed at Rochester Village Hall
A generator being installed at Rochester Village Hall. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Generators are being installed at rural village halls so they can act as community hubs in the event of power cuts.

It comes a year after Storm Arwen left thousands of homes left without power, some for as long as 10 days.

The generators will allow village halls to provide services for people whose homes are without power or heating.

They are being funded as part of a £7.7 million scheme from the Northern Powergrid Foundation charity, established by the electricity network operator Northern Powergrid in the aftermath of the devastating storm in November 2021.

Storm Arwen left some homes without power for 10 days Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

One of the generators has been installed in Rochester Village Hall in Northumberland.

David Pentney, chair of the village hall committee, said: “It will allow us to open up if we have a power cut and we can go around the village and say, 'the village hall is open. We can function'.”

David Pentney is Chair of Rochester Village Hall committee Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The hall has received a grant of £16,956 to provide a gas-powered cooker and a large battery, alongside the LPG-powered generator.

According to Mr Pentney, the facilities will mean they can say to villagers that “we've got heat, we've got light, we've got cooking facilities and we've got a projector that does entertainment and everything else.

“So please come and keep warm while we've got power cuts or whatever else there is.”

The Hexham MP, Guy Opperman, has worked with the hall on its grant application, and said it was “100%” right that Northern Powergrid should fund local resilience projects.

“Storm Arwen showed that Northern Powergrid were just not ready for extreme weather,” he said, describing the company’s communications as “woeful".

Guy Opperman is Conservative MP for Hexham Credit: PA News

Alongside improvements to communications and infrastructure, the Conservative MP said the foundation funding would ensure that local communities can exist without electric power for a period of time.

He said: “That's what this is all about, and that's what we're trying to make sure happens all across the North East.”

Northern Powergrid said it was "very sorry for the difficulties" customers faced during Storm Arwen.

The company’s spokesman, Jim Cardwell, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "With climate change we expect to see more of this turbulent weather coming through, so we have set up a £7.7m charitable foundation to assist people."

The company says it has now set aside £16m a year, over the next five years, for responding to extreme weather events caused by a changing climate.

Mr Cardwell said: "What we're looking at is the impact of climate change and how we need to adapt in terms of where we target that investment to make sure that we're dealing with things like flood defences, for example.

"We are taking that responsibility seriously on a day-to-day, year in, year out basis."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...