Braemar Mountain Rescue help to keep power line repairs on track

Braemar Mountain Rescue’s (BMR) specialist equipment and expertise have been helping teams from SSEN Distribution repair power lines damaged by the recent heavy snow falls in the Ballater area. 

The combination of one of the heaviest snowfalls in decades and sub-zero temperatures saw snow and ice building up on SSEN’s overhead power lines, with the extra weight eventually being enough to cause them to snap and come down, resulting in power cuts across in the area. SSEN’s priority was to get the power back on in local homes as safely and as quickly as possible before embarking on the necessary repairs.

Sections of SSEN’s overhead network span some of the more remote locations in the Cairngorms National Park, and with the snow at chest-height in some parts, access to the damaged equipment was incredibly challenging for SSEN’s teams as they set out to repair the damaged lines and poles.

Given the location and the nature of the challenge, SSEN reached out to Braemar Mountain Rescue, a team of volunteers with an in-depth knowledge of the local terrain and years of experience working in extreme weather conditions. 

Following a call to establish the nature of the damage to the overhead lines and pinpoint their remote location, teams from BMR and SSEN made their way out through the snow, with the BMR all-terrain vehicles providing safe transit for the crews and equipment.

Kevin Masson from Braemar Mountain Rescue explained more about the support he and his colleagues have been able to offer SSEN:

“With the snowfall in Upper Deeside reaching depths in excess of those seen for some decades, we were fully aware of the challenges SSEN would be facing with access to remote hilltop locations in these conditions, and hence we were more than willing to assist.  

“We maintain a fleet of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) which are principally used for carrying team members into, and injured casualties out of, the remotest areas of the Cairngorms.   As an example, one of the vehicles we used to help the SSEN teams is designed to carry up to eight passengers in the rear with two in the front, or in casualty situations, can accommodate two stretchers and working space for a team Doctor in the rear.  

“The SSEN crews were taken to within a hundred metres of the power lines and with the aid of a BMR stretcher (designed for casualty extraction in snow), were able to load all their heavy equipment into the stretcher and descend the line, making repairs as they went.  Snowshoes were provided by BMR, allowing the engineers to more easily travel through the forest in 1 – 1.5 metres of snow cover.”

Ryan Milne, SSEN’s Fault Restoration Manager, was full of praise for the support provided by Braemar Mountain Rescue:  

“This is some of the heaviest snow we’ve seen in years, and without the help of the team from Braemar Mountain Rescue, we simply would not have been able to get out to where the lines and poles had been damaged. Their willingness to help and local knowledge has shone through since we first got in touch, they’ve been a great team to work with and I’d like to thank them on behalf of everyone here at SSEN.”

SSEN is intending to make a donation to Braemar Mountain Rescue in recognition of their assistance.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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