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2 Nov, 2022 11:44

UK tests blackout emergency plan – Guardian

The exercise is intended to assess how the country copes with outages for up to a week, a report says
UK tests blackout emergency plan – Guardian

The British government has “war gamed” emergency plans to cope with energy blackouts lasting up to seven days in the event of a national power outage, The Guardian reported on Tuesday. The stress-testing comes amid growing fears over energy security this winter.

According to documents marked ‘official sensitive’ and seen by the outlet, in a “reasonable worst-case scenario” all sectors including transport, food and water supply, communications, and energy could be “severely disrupted” for up to a week.

If the country experiences blackouts, the priority will be to get food, water and shelter to the young and elderly people, as well as those with caring responsibilities.

The report indicated that a cross-government blueprint was first drawn up in 2021 to improve planning and resilience in the event of a major technical fault on the grid. This is unrelated to the energy outlooks published by the national grid operator for this winter, according to The Guardian.

However, government insiders reportedly admitted that the plan, dubbed ‘Programme Yarrow’, had taken on a new urgency at a time of a worsening energy crisis.

“The government doesn’t want any publicity on Yarrow, as they don’t want it to be seen as linked to Ukraine, energy supply and the cost of living,” one of the sources told The Guardian, adding: “But we need to think about how we can help people in advance. The fact they’re talking about it now means they have a real concern it could happen.” 

According to Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary: “All governments do contingency planning for worst-case scenarios but the truth is that we are vulnerable as a country as a direct consequence of a decade of failed Conservative energy policy…” 

The report highlighted that the types of technical fault envisaged by government planners include flood damage or a lightning strike on a substation, but could also cover an attack on under-sea power cables, such as with the recent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines.

“Programme Yarrow prepares for a situation where power is unavailable, without any pre-warning, to all premises without backup generators during winter. It envisages that 60% of electricity demand will be met “between day 2 and day 7” when households and businesses will be given “intermittent access” to ration supply,” said the report.

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