Ettrick power cut misery ‘over soon’

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They were given at a meeting last week in the Boston Hall in the village of Ettrick, attended by representatives of Scottish Power, local forestry interests and more than 20 concerned householders.

As previously reported in TheSouthern, homes on the Tushielaw to Roberton road have been affected by trees that have been blown down crashing on to the power line at West Buccleuch.

Last week’s meeting was told that all the properties affected have now been supplied with generators and that timber extraction close to the power line is well under way and should be completed by February 23.

It emerged that the reason other Ettrick residents further up the valley have been enduring similar power cuts was the “erratic behaviour” of the ironically named intelligent switching unit at Tushielaw Farm. A fault has now been identified and repair work will start immediately.

Scottish Power also gave a commitment that compensation for all affected households would be issued automatically.

The forestry owners, through their agent, assured the gathering that the replanting work would avoid commercial trees being grown close to power lines in future.

The main reason behind the problems at West Buccleuch was the sudden cancellation of planned generators, which should have allowed the forestry clearance to be completed.

This was a decision taken by Scottish Power as a result of a serious pollution incident caused by similar generators at the Gair in Ettrick, which led to a major review by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The use of these generators was suspended and tendering for a supplier of safer generators started. The delay meant Scottish Power was unable to supply generators for this type of work for several months.

Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson, who arranged and chaired the meeting, told TheSouthern: “It is a sorry tale by a major utility company, but I think Ettrick residents welcomed the fact that the representatives had travelled to Ettrick to explain first-hand what went wrong, will issue compensation automatically and have started work to remedy the faulty switching unit which caused unnecessary knock on power cuts.”

She added: “I think it is always useful for utility suppliers to meet their customers and particularly when this level of disruption has been experienced.

“There was also recognition by the residents of the efforts of the linesmen working in extreme and dangerous conditions in the forest to reconnect them every time the line was broken.”