Storm Arwen: latest news for North East farmers

First published: 17 December 2021

North East update graphic based on a photo of waves crashing over the lighthouse at Redcar during Storm Arwen

Photo: © Jason Brown/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire

For members affected by the aftermath of Storm Arwen, here is the latest North East update on issues around power and water supply.

As of Wednesday 15 December 2021

Farm safety

HSE reminder on farm safety and working around live services

The HSE has asked the NFU to remind its members about safety steps they can take when clearing up trees damaged by Storm Arwen, working in field or in locations where live wires may still be present or working at heights or using machinery.

They are advising that dealing with windblow (fallen trees) following recent storms is very hazardous work and is best left to professionals with the right equipment and right level of competency. In most cases the use of purpose-built mechanical forestry equipment will be necessary. The forestry industry have put an alert out Storm Arwen leaves in its wake extremely dangerous trees (ukfisa.com) with more advice.

Northern Powergrid is advising members to refresh themselves on working safely around powerlines, never approach a powerline and always report a downed line immediately using 105. Further information on safety around electrical lines can be found at https://www.northernpowergrid.com/safety.

Power restored to all

Mains or on generation

Whilst most members will now be back to normal main supply, some parts of the region remain on generation (generators located with substations or local hubs). Northern Powergrid teams now believe that everyone should now be on one of these systems and no longer relying on their own generators or without power. If this is not the case, please call Northern Powergrid on 105 immediately – the NFU North East Team would also like to know, so please call 01904 451 550 as well.

Power disruption during final repairs  

As the network continues to be repaired, and to ensure the safety of all, there may be a need to cut power supplies to areas whilst the Northern Powergrid Team undertaken the relevant essential work. To ensure disruption is minimised, members will be contacted by Northern Powergrid prior to this work.   

Damage to land because of repairs

Northern Powergrid is encouraging landowners, occupiers and farmers in the rural community to get in touch if they have taken access to your fields and caused any damage during the restoration of supplies. If they haven’t taken access yet, but you think they will likely do so, please contact them. Email [email protected], and provide your name, address and contact phone number, and they will get in touch as soon as possible.

Compensation and reimbursement/welfare costs

Northern Powergrid has provided the NFU with the below update in relation to recovering costs following Storm Arwen:

We understand the strain Storm Arwen has placed on our customers at a difficult time and how important it is that we make compensation payments as swiftly as possible. The amount of compensation each customer is entitled to is bespoke, depending on how long you were off supply. The information below explains these payments, the process for payment and what customers should do if they have any issues or concerns.

Compensation

The amount of compensation each customer is entitled to is bespoke, depending on the length of time you were off compared with the length of time the regulations give Northern Powergrid to restore supply.

For a typical customer, if you were without power for more than 48 hours, the compensation payment will be £70 for the first 48 hours and £70 for every 12 hours beyond that. Although compensation under the regulations is capped at £700, Northern Powergrid is voluntarily topping-up payment to those off supply for the longest, so you will be compensated as if the cap did not apply.

Where Northern Powergrid has all the information needed to pay compensation

The company has now processed a large amount of the data that will allow them to pay compensation automatically where they already have all the information they need, such as the bill payer’s details and duration of your power cut. Northern Powergrid will calculate the amount of compensation due and proactively send you a cheque. This straightforward approach will ensure most customers will receive their payment without having to contact them.

Where Northern Powergrid does not hold all the information needed

For customers where Northern Powergrid does not hold all the information needed, they will send you a letter inviting you to provide the required details. You will be able to do this via a secure website, by calling the company or by returning the form provided. These letters will start to be issued this week. Northern Powergrid will let everyone know when they have written out to all the affected customers so that you may contact them if you have not heard from the company by then. All payments will be made via cheque, mitigating the risk of fraud. Northern Powergird will not request any bank details from you at any time.

Timescale

Northern Powergrid is on track to start issuing cheques later this week and has made arrangements to increase our capacity to issue thousands of payments each day. That will enable to us to make these as many payments as possible before Christmas.

Reimbursement/welfare costs

In addition to compensation payments, Northern Powergrid is providing financial assistance to any domestic customer who was still off supply on 29 November 2021 or later and who needed our help. They will pay for the reasonable costs of alternative accommodation and food (up to £15 per person per meal). They will also contribute to other reasonably incurred costs; for example, where a customer arranges for their own back-up generator.

To claim your welfare support payments, the FAQ below gives guidance on the reimbursement of welfare support costs.

Read our FAQ about reimbursement of welfare support costs.
Read our FAQ about the weather impact in our region during Storm Arwen.
Read our FAQ about maintaining generators.

We will be providing more details on how to claim for these welfare support payments soon. In the meantime, please keep your receipts and see our FAQs below for guidance on reimbursement of welfare support costs.

Contact information

Members can continue to find the latest updates at www.northernpowergrid.com/storm-arwen Email the Northern Powergrid team at [email protected] or call 105.

 

 

 

As at 10am on Thursday 2 December

Power update

Since the weekend, the NFU has been working closely with Northern Powergrid and Electricity North West to raise member issues from across the region, find solutions and provide feedback into their plans as they evolve to restore power to over 240,000 customers.  

Northern Powergrid, with support from hundreds of additional engineers drafted in from across the UK, has now successfully restored power to 95% of customers impacted by Storm Arwen. More than 15,000 remain off supply, predominantly across rural communities in the Northumberland and County Durham where the scale of the damage is extensive and where large sections of the overhead line network needs to be rebuilt in order to restore supplies. This work is complex, but engineers will not stop until all customers have their power restored. This could still take up to several days given the challenges they continue to face.

Northern Powergrid teams, working with the British Red Cross and other multi-agency partners, are out in the worst affected communities providing access to hot water, drinks, mobile phone charging and winter warmer packs. This support will continue as long as needed.

Key messages

Northern Powergrid know that many of their rural customers are facing significant challenges and they would like to share the following messages:

  • Please get in touch with Northern Powergrid on the 105 number is you or anyone you know is facing heath vulnerabilities or rely on medical equipment and needs advice or support
  • Let us know immediately on the 105 number if you are aware of any electricity assets (such as overhead lines) that have come down on people’s land or faults (including fires) have occurred and we will dispatch a team to investigate. DO NOT APPROACH LINES OR OTHER NETWORK ASSETS IF THEY HAVE COME DOWN. STAY WELL BACK AS THEY MAY BE LIVE.
  • Where possible, customers are advised to switch off and unplug any electrical equipment, including farm equipment when not in use, as although power has been restored to many, supply may be variable (need to be turned off and on for short periods) as we bring the network back to its full capacity
  • There is now a dedicated storm update and assistance email [email protected] – please share your name, address, email and telephone details to receive proactive updates
  • If safe to do so, clearing roads and access to land that has damaged wires or poles in, will help speed up repairs
  • In line with industry guaranteed standards, once all storm-affected customers’ supplies are restored, we will proactively contact them to advise on payments due depending on the duration of their power cut.

Situation in Weardale, Teesdale and Allendale

The NFU is also working closely with Northern Powergrid and members in Weardale, Teesdale and Allendale where the damage means that alternative measures will be needed until the network can be repaired. Northern Powergrid will be providing financial assistance to any domestic customer who was still off supply on 29 November 2021 or later and who needs its help. This will include the reasonable costs of alternative accommodation and food (up to £15 per person per meal). It will also contribute to other reasonably incurred costs; for example where a customer arranges for their own back-up generator. Northern Powergrid will consider each customer’s circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Customers who require assistance should email [email protected] and Northern Powergrid will be in contact as quickly as possible with assistance.

Power supply contact information

Northern Powergrid customers can find more details at www.northernpowergrid.com (including a map showing current power cuts and planned works here) on Twitter or Facebook.

Electricity North West customers can find more details at www.enwl.co.uk/power-cuts or call 105 or 0800 195 4141 and select option four.

Water supply update

With most of the region losing power following the Storm Arwen and damage to the power network not seen for nearly 20 years. Many parts of the region’s infrastructure, including water supply was also impacted. Again, the NFU regional team has been working closely with Northumbrian Water, Hartlepool Water and Yorkshire Water to get mains water supply back on to members as quickly as possible, with tankers deployed in parts to ensure supply was sustained until a power supply was returned.

All water companies have indicated to use that supply should be back now, but some customers, particularly on higher ground, may still be experiencing some intermittent issues, such as low pressure, while the situation returns to normal.

Water supply contact information

Should you have issues with mains supply, please contact:

  • Yorkshire Water on 0345 124 2424
  • Hartlepool Water on 03457 145 145
  • Northumbrian Water on 0345 717 1100

Non mains supply

The loss of power has also impacted many members who rely on private water supplies (e.g., boreholes or pumped spring water), with many reliant on this for all their domestic and business (including livestock) use. Again, the NFU has been working with the power companies to restore power wherever possible, but also working closely with the local authorities and emergency services to source alternatives.

This issue remains a challenge in many parts, and we would ask that you contact the North East office on 01904 451550 should you have any significant issues, and we will endeavour to support you in finding energy alternative options.  

NFU contact information

The NFU team is continuing to help our members and working with a host or organisations to find solutions and explore wider opportunities to help recovery. Should you wish to contact us, please email [email protected] or call 01904 451550. Your local office can also help with NFU Mutual insurance issues as well. 

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