CONCERNS are mounting over the supply of electricity to the Western Isles after the area’s MP warned there “is no backup left”.

The warning comes after an unexpected outage last week left around 13,000 Outer Hebridean residents without power.

The fault was found to be on the 33,000-volt subsea electricity distribution cable that connects Lewis and Harris to the mainland.

Now, without the power coming from the mainland, the Western Isles are being powered entirely by Stornoway’s Battery Point Power Station.

Commissioned in 1954, the Stornoway station was previously only being used to provide extra power during peak winter months, during maintenance of the subsea cable, or as a final backup.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil said this meant “the backup is now a long term backup - there is no backup left”.

MacNeil said that Ofgem, the body which regulates power supplies, “has to engage” with the local community to make sure that resilience improves for his constituency.

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He said: “The fault is at 100 metre depth, about 15 kilometres from land, and it might be the case that the cable has to be fully replaced at a cost of tens of millions of pounds.

“There would be a period of months therefore that Lewis and Harris would be on the backup with Battery Point Power Station.

“I've been in touch with Ofgem over the last five weeks about the line feeding the islands, particularly the substations and Quoich and Broadford in Skye, SSE had flagged them up as being of concern but now the undersea cable has gone and I think Ofgem has to engage.

“Do we want to have a triangular area in the Minch for resilience and backup so that we could have a cable between Harris and North Uist? Then there is the question of the undersea cable that renewable energy would have brought in. Ofgem don't use backup as being a factor for having the interconnector.

“Finally, it would be good to know how much renewable energy is able to help and ameliorate the amount of diesel that's required at the Battery Power Station.

“Ofgem has to engage with the local community to make sure that resilience improves for the islands.

“This is particularly important as Battery Point Power Station in Stornoway is a backup but is now becoming for the foreseeable few months, the permanent and only source.”