SNP ministers have been accused of trying to “abdicate responsibility” for the devastation caused by Storm Arwen after it was confirmed some households will go a week without electricity.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said some of the 6,500 homes without power would not get it restored until Friday thanks to “localised faults”.
Graeme Keddie of SSEN said the main villages have been reconnected but the storm had caused “devastation on parts of the network”, particularly in Aberdeenshire, where 4,000 customers yesterday remained without power.
Kwarsi Kwarteng, the UK Energy Secretary, told the Commons yesterday the country had faced the worst conditions since 2005 and that the wind in central Scotland reached speeds seen “only twice in 25 years”.
Michael Matheson, the SNP’s Energy Secretary, said the Scottish Government has been offering help to councils as they are “responsible for local resilience on the ground”.
But, asked to specify what measures Scottish ministers have taken directly to support the affected households, he repeatedly said the power companies were responsible.
Michael Matheson, the SNP's Energy Secretary has been accused of trying to “abdicate responsibility” and pass the buck to the energy companies
Mr Matheson said they were in charge of maintaining the electricity network and argued that vulnerable customers should “contact their energy supplier through their customer care line in order to make sure that they are seen as a priority customer”.
However, he was challenged about the case of a couple in Berwickshire, who have had no power since 5pm last Friday and claimed they have had “no offer of help” since then.
In a text message to BBC Radio Scotland, which conducted the interview, they said the husband had just come home following an emergency admission to Borders General Hospital and has impaired mobility.
His wife has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is partially sighted but had been forced to cope in the dark with no assistance, they said.
Properties across the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Angus were battered by winds of up to 90mph last Friday.
‘Seeking to abdicate responsibility altogether’
Liam Kerr, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Energy Secretary, said: “Having been caught taking their eye off the ball in response to Storm Arwen, the SNP Government are now seeking to abdicate responsibility altogether.
“There are thousands of homes across Scotland facing the prospect of a week without any power supply – and yet all Michael Matheson has done is pass the buck to the energy companies."
SSEN said it had reconnected more than 120,000 homes cut off following the storm and pledged to reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.
Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.
Mr Keddie told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “For those localised faults, those faults that are serving a home or a group of homes, we are looking into Friday for restoration.”
Chris Burchell, SSEN managing director, said: “The impact of Storm Arwen has caused catastrophic damage to the electricity network across the north-east of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation.
“I would like to thank our customers who have shown great resilience, patience and understanding since the impact of Storm Arwen, and we fully recognise the urgency of the situation for those who continue to remain off supply.”
Mr Matheson said a review of the response to Storm Arwen had been ordered to “see if there are further measures we can put in place for future in order to try and minimise the difficulty and the problems that have been experienced over the course of the last five days”.