Northumberland MP’s recommendations after meetings on storm

Guy Opperman has released a report called ‘Storm Arwen: Learning Lessons’, which includes 10 recommendations to improve resilience and communications for future weather events.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 12:33 pm
Guy Opperman MP speaks during one of his public meetings in relation to Storm Arwen.
Guy Opperman MP speaks during one of his public meetings in relation to Storm Arwen.

It follows the MP for the Hexham constituency holding a series of public meetings into the response by power companies and authorities. The meeting locations included Ponteland.

The devastating consequences of the late November storm included thousands of people in Northumberland being without power, heat and water for days. Properties were also damaged and trees felled.

The report, which has been sent to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and energy regulator Ofgem to be considered as part of their reviews, is critical of Northern Powergrid’s communications, resilience planning and the lack of interim generators to fill the gap during the power cuts.

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Its recommendations cover issues such as interim energy provision, resilience, data sharing and telephone communication – as part of the telephone communication one, he says “the ‘digital voice’ landlines are a real problem”.

Mr Opperman said: “Lessons need to be learnt from Storm Arwen, where some of my constituents were without power for as long as 13 days.

“More needs to be done on communications, community resilience and interim generation to ensure our communities are match fit for future weather events.”

The report mentions a specific issue that affected Ponteland.

He said there was a fault on the low voltage (wooden poles and substations) system that Northern Powergrid was “unable to see” and with the Pont View street particularly impacted, it took action by residents and his team, days after the street first lost power, until the company finally registered a problem.

The report’s conclusions include the following: “Every constituent I have spoken to has applauded the fantastic work of the linesmen and engineers who returned supply as quickly as they could.

“But the fact that hundreds of my constituents were without power for over 11 days is completely unacceptable.”

Mr Opperman’s report is available to view in full online at www.guyopperman.co.uk/StormArwen