Greg Hands – 2021 Speech on Storm Arwen

The speech made by Greg Hands, the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, in the House of Commons on 6 December 2021.

As the House will know, the Secretary of State updated Members last week on how we are continuing to work to ensure that power is restored to people’s homes following Storm Arwen. We have provided a named contact for MPs, on request, for each network operator, which I was delighted to do personally with the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) on Friday morning.

Storm Arwen was the worst storm in over 15 years in terms of the disruption and damage caused. Those most badly hit have been in northern England and Scotland, and some have now been without power for over a week. That has made life incredibly difficult and stressful for many residents, and I want to assure them that help is there.

On Wednesday, I visited County Durham and on Friday I visited Aberdeenshire to see first-hand some of the devastation caused by Storm Arwen, and yesterday the Secretary of State was also in the north-east of England. I thank the engineers, the emergency workers and our armed forces who are on the ground for their incredibly hard work and perseverance in challenging conditions. We have removed the compensation limit to allow customers affected to claim up to £140 per day if they are without power.

I am glad to say that 99.8% of those affected by the storm have had their power supply restored so far—but this is not good enough. It is completely unacceptable that about 1,600 of them were still in this position as of this morning, although the situation is improving each hour. The remaining areas affected are in the north-east of England, predominantly the Wear valley surrounding Eastgate, where I was on Wednesday. I have been assured by the network operators that all efforts are focused on having power restored to those households in the next days.