Back-up power to prevent repeat of Storm Arwen misery in Craster

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In the event of future power cuts there will be no need for Craster and Dunstan residents to huddle around lit candles.

Storm Arwen in November 2021, followed by a second lengthy power cut in January 2022, left residents of the coastal communities in the cold and dark.

Without mobile phone signal or internet, residents, many of whom are elderly, also lacked means of communication.

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The Craster Community Trust and Craster Parish Council were determined that this situation should not be allowed to happen again.

New solar panels on the roof of Craster Memorial Hall.New solar panels on the roof of Craster Memorial Hall.
New solar panels on the roof of Craster Memorial Hall.

As Craster Memorial Hall is designated a Warm Hub by Community Action Northumberland it was proposed that the hall could become a refuge providing light, warmth, communication and company if only it had a reliable back-up electricity supply.

The way forward was to install solar panels and a Tesla storage battery which would not only provide back-up power but make the hall self-sufficient in providing green electricity.

A Northern Powergrid Foundation grant funded the bulk of the cost supported by the Community Trust, with generous donations from many holiday accommodation and second-home owners. The solar system supplied by AR Power is now fully operational.

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The Foundation is a charitable organisation that was set up by the regional electricity network operator following Storm Arwen and the resulting power cut disruption to support projects that improve community energy resilience.

Damage caused by Storm Arwen in Craster.Damage caused by Storm Arwen in Craster.
Damage caused by Storm Arwen in Craster.

Northern Powergrid has been working with the communities worst affected by the storms, including Craster, to get some early projects off the ground before opening up the funding more widely across its operating region of Yorkshire and the North East later this year.

Craster Community Trust is one of the first organisations to successfully apply for and be awarded funding through the Foundation and is now helping other local communities with their applications.

Cllr Wendy Pattinson, member for Loughoughton ward on Northumberland County Council, said: “Craster and Dunstan are an amazing, wonderful and hardworking community.

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"I really do see the solar panels and storage battery as providing a safe, self-sufficient warm space in the event of a power cut plus having real benefits in cutting energy costs and contributing to Northumberland`s carbon neutral target. Well done to everyone involved.”

Cllr Martin Smith, chairman of Craster Parish Council, added: “This has been an absolutely fantastic project for our community and we are delighted to work in partnership with the Craster Community Trust and Northern Powergrid once more.

"The project aims to enhance the Memorial Hall’s resilience as a community hub, creating a micro-grid to provide warmth, food and drink, social interaction and internet communication, particularly for those in need.

“The facility would also provide these facilities and external communication during power outages. This is desperately important for our community as we have experienced several power outages over the last few years and there is a need to provide a warm and safe space, particularly for more vulnerable residents.”

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He added: “We’d also like to take the opportunity to thank all of our holiday let owners in the parish who very kindly contributed so much to this project so that we could offer match funding at application stage. Craster and Dunstan form a fantastic community.”

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