The Welsh Liberal Democrats have demanded that the UK Government provides emergency support to rural communities who have been left without power for days after Storm Arwen. The calls come as many in Powys, Ceredigion and the Dee Vally face their fourth night without power.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS & Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron MP
In a letter to UK ministers, Welsh Party Leader Jane Dodds MS and Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron MP warned that rural communities in areas like Montgomeryshire, Clwyd South and Ceredigion are being taken for granted and “abandoned by the government in their time of need.”
Tim Farron MP, also raised the issue in the UK Parliament today and criticised the government for failing to make an official ministerial statement on the issue.
The letter calls for ministers to step in and provide food, emergency accommodation and other essential supplies to vulnerable people on the ground impacted by the storm. It also urges the armed forces to be brought in to provide emergency electricity generators to communities until power is restored, and for the government to provide additional support to engineers working hard to bring back power as soon as possible.
The Party is also calling for new rules requiring electricity companies to prioritise investing some of their profits into local power networks, to help prevent outages in the future. The letter states that it is “frankly unacceptable” that people are being left for days without electricity. The plans would require electricity providers to restore electricity to homes as soon as possible when power cuts do occur or face fines from the regulator Ofgem.
The Liberal Democrat proposals would mean electricity companies such as SP Energy Networks which supplies Powys, Ceredigion and Shropshire and made £80.7 million in profits last year, would have to invest more in strengthening local power supplies.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“It is frankly unacceptable that people are being left without electricity like this for extended periods of time. Communities in rural areas from Montgomeryshire to Ceredigion to Clwyd South are being taken for granted and abandoned in their time of need. This is having a particularly serious impact on people in rural communities who cannot easily travel, including those who are elderly or infirm.
“We are demanding the government to come forward with an urgent action plan to ensure that households are not left again without electricity for days - particularly in the cold winter months.
“Alongside this, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are also calling for an expansion of renewable energy and electricity is generated closer to homes. New developments, for example, should have power generation on-site - making them less susceptible to power cuts. This could include small-scale solar, wind or hydro projects, also helping to support the local economy and create local jobs.”
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:
“It is a disgrace that families in rural areas have been abandoned by the government for days following Storm Arwen. Ministers need to urgently step up and provide emergency support to those impacted while taking action to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“People in our rural communities are fed up with being taken for granted and left without proper support when things go wrong.
“We are calling for strict new rules that would force electricity providers to invest more in local power networks, with a duty to restore electricity as soon as possible when power cuts do happen.”