Regulators are being urged to turn a review of Storm Arwen into a full inquiry to ensure the north-east is better equipped to deal with the “next emergency”.
Extreme weather during the last weekend of November knocked out supplies to homes across Aberdeenshire, as well as other parts of the UK.
It took eight days for the final homes to be reconnected, with hundreds of engineers drafted in to carry out urgent repairs, while a taskforce including government ministers, council officials and emergency services was set up before the storm arrived.
Although they worked around the clock to get the entire north-east population reconnected, concerns have been raised over why the storm led to such extensive damage.
Questions have been asked over the ability of the network to cope – and with more extreme weather events expected as a consequence of climate change, there are fears long periods without power could become regular.
Ofgem, which regulates the energy sector, is carrying out a review into the handling of the storm.
However, an Aberdeenshire councillor now wants that to become a full-scale inquiry into the response by energy providers and ministers.
North-east battered by Storm Arwen
Leigh Wilson, who helped deliver aid to those without power in his Mearns ward, claimed residents need “reassurances” the response will be quicker next time.
He described the resources available to tackle storm damage as “inadequate”.
“Many of my constituents spent a full week with no power in the midst of biting cold weather,” he said.
“My constituents and many others are demanding reassurance that response will be quicker to the next emergency.
“No-one doubts that Storm Arwen was one of the most severe in living memory, the efforts of the linesmen actually deployed and particularly the heroic community attempts to rally round neighbours.”
‘Almost unprecedented’ impact of storm
Mr Wilson now plans to lodge a motion at the next full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council calling for a full inquiry.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney previously described the challenges posed by Storm Arwen as “almost unprecedented” – and insisted infrastructure would “evolve and strengthen” as a result.
“This has been a really difficult time, and there are lessons for all of us to learn,” he added.
“That is why I announced the Scottish Government will lead, through our resilience arrangements, a lessons-learned exercise.”
Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley highlighted the “strict rules” power companies operate under and said the regulator will “take action if needed” following its review.