Review to be carried out following major power outage on Shetland

Residents were cut off from the mainland after two subsea cables were damaged last week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commits to review following major power outage on Shetland STV News

A review will take place into the resiliency of internet and mobile services on Shetland after a major outage on the island.

Residents were cut off from the mainland after two subsea cables were damaged.

Services were reinstated a day later through a temporary fix as engineers carried out repairs.

Police had urged locals to only make calls in emergency situations, as well as telling them they may have to flag down an emergency vehicle that does not have its blue lights on if they are unable to get through.

At First Minister’s Questionsn on Thursday, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Beatrice Wishart said that the scale of the outage pointed to a “fundamental vulnerability” of island communications infrastructure.

Wishart, the MSP for the Shetland Islands, insisted that guaranteed connectivity and reliability is needed.

“The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) will be aware of the major telecommunications failure in Shetland last Thursday,” she said.

“As the emergency resilience plan kicked in, supported by emergency services, to whom I extend grateful thanks along with engineers fixing the problem, Highlanders faced the prospect of being cut off from the world for several days.

“No mobile signal, no internet or digital landlines, banks shut, cash machines useless and residents asked to flag down an emergency vehicle where needed.

“And all this points to the fundamental vulnerability of island communications infrastructure, something I and many others highlighted during the now-junked proposals for centralised air traffic control.

“We need guaranteed connectivity and reliability. Will the Scottish Government agree to reviewing what happened to ensure these vital communication connections that most people take for granted are resilient?”

The First Minister said that the situation was monitored by the Government in working with partner agencies.

Sturgeon also indicated that a review of wider resilience will be carried out.

“I thank Beatrice Wishart for raising this vital issue which I know was a matter of profound concern to islanders last week,” she said.

“Obviously, the government was very involved in making sure that all efforts were made to reconnect these services as quickly as possible and of course, thanks to the dedication of everybody working on this, it wasn’t the case that telecommunications and power were interrupted for several days.

“In fact, all supplies and services were reinstated around 4pm on the same day and throughout, the Scottish Government’s resilience room was monitoring the situation and liaising with partner agencies.”

Sturgeon added: “The points about wider resilience I think are legitimate and important to make and I will give a commitment that we will review all of that in light of this incident and consider what other steps may be required.”

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