THE recent storm Arwen has had a devastating effect on rural north-east Scotland. I have been fortunate and not been seriously affected; sadly others are still suffering power outages.

Liam Kerr, MSP for North East Scotland, was quick off the mark on Tuesday to condemn the Scottish Government over the handling of issues in the north-east. It is more than a little ironic for a neoliberal to ask for more government support.

Burying the cables is an option, however I fear it would not be cost-justifiable.

READ MORE: Met Office issues yellow warning for 10cm of snow and 70mph winds in Scotland

As more information has emerged from the power supply industry, it appears this storm has produced damage five times greater than previous storms. Other informed industry commentators have advised that the energy supply company SSEN had last year surveyed the power lines, but the trees that were at risk of causing problems were not trimmed or removed.

Customers advise that the lack of information from the supply industry and the daily changing reconnection due dates is adding to their frustration. These changes are mainly due to the discovery of new faults as the reconnection work progresses.

There were processes which checked power poles for their physical integrity. Why was it that SSEN did not undertake the maintenance work during the summer? Is it because spending money on maintenance is easy to avoid?

It would appear that Storm Arwen has tested the resilience of SSEN in the north-east, and the infrastructure has been found to be lacking. “A stitch in time saves nine”, seems to apply, but it is deeper than that.

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus

CRAIG Meighan’s article, “‘Urgent’ review on response to storm power loss” (Dec 4) deals with the effect of the outrageous power outages experienced by many people in the north of England and parts of Scotland and what Ofgem is going to do.

The media has been full of photographs showing trees that have been blown down in the storm, damaging overhead power lines. In fact these trees should have been felled in the autumn to prevent such damage – preventative maintenance! I accept this involves expense and could adversely affect short-term profits!

READ MORE: Boris Johnson slammed over response to Storm Arwen power cuts

Perhaps it is also time to consider if there is a case to consider putting more of the power lines underground, but again this is much more expensive and perhaps not attractive to private companies.

With the collapse of many of the energy supply companies, the whole question is whether or not a privatised energy system is the best way to deliver electricity to the consumer?

I would suggest that the Tory privatisation of the UK electricity system has been a failure and is in meltdown. As a matter of urgency it needs to be reviewed by the four devolved administrations in order to provide a reliable service and compatible with the needs of climate change.

Thomas L Inglis

THE article by Mark Ruskell on the consequences of Storm Arwen raise a number of points (We can’t underestimate consequences of storm, Dec 2). Many of the problems with overhead cables being damaged and roads being blocked are being caused by falling trees. This rather conflicts with the desire to plant more trees to sequester carbon. Even buried services such as drains and water supply are vulnerable to damage by roots being ripped up by the wind. Normally this has been dealt with by the practice of wayleaves being kept clear of trees, which, as with railways, requires constant maintenance.

The future answer is the integration of services on the pattern of the telegraph wires that used to follow railways. If roads and services followed the same routes, access would be better and the environmental damage of such a corridor could be less than that of several routes wandering about the countryside. It might change the cost balance of undergrounding electrical service if this cost was shared with that of the road.

This lack of integration has always puzzled me. If overhead cables lose power over their length, why are the pylons not used for vertical wind turbines to mitigate this loss? When domestic electricity was first installed it was surface-mounted and people took power from light sockets. Now you cannot see the maze of cables in the average house. This principle applies to the outdoors too.

If this irks an engineer struggling in the cold to reconnect a cable, please believe me, I am your side.

Iain WD Forde

AMID all the regular complaints about lack of lorry drivers, nurses , ambulance staff, long waiting lists, empty shelves etc, why does no-one ask an obvious question? Since a main driver of the Brexit campaign was the belief that foreigners were stealing British jobs, why are there so many vacancies that cannot be filled, now that thousands of the foreigners formerly filling them have left our shores? Do the folk who claimed that these jobs had been stolen from them not want them now?

P Davidson