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Were turbines behind power cut?

More questions have been raised about a possible link between wind energy and the major power cut which blacked out more than 200,000 properties across the north last week.

The widespread power outage which affected homes from Fort William to Orkney and Moray to the Western Isles has been tracked to a mysterious fault somewhere on the high voltage line between Inverness and Keith.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) initial indications point a transient fault caused by objects such as debris, birds or lightning striking the cables, but so far they have been unable to pinpoint where this happened.

A spokeswoman for SHEPD refused yesterday to answer specific questions about whether wind power was linked to the blackout. But yesterday more concern was voiced that the blackout could be linked to wind power.

Retired engineer Douglas Brodie, 70, of Nairn, questioned whether a drop in wind immediately prior to the lights going out could have sparked the blackout.

He said: “Could this abrupt drop in wind have triggered a local shutdown which for some reason escalated into a regional shutdown?

“It’s a reasonable question to ask but I doubt if we will ever get an answer.”

He said as yet “no credible explanation” for the widespread outage had been given.

A friend of Mr Brodie, farmer John Graham, of Beauly, said he was outside at the time of the power cut around 8.30pm on Wednesday and experienced a marked drop in wind first-hand. He said: “It was pretty windy. I was working outside and one minute I was hauling on the barn door to get it closed and the next minute the wind had totally died. There is a question mark there. According to the forecast the wind wasn’t supposed to drop, it was supposed to increase, and it did but there was a lull before it came back again.

“Could it may have been this sudden drop of a few seconds which caused a power spike and that was what knocked out the switches for the network?

“It seems to me there is a correlation between that and lack of power. The wind did drop just before the power went out.”

He said he was sceptical about the causes put forward as he said his area frequently experiences bird strikes and only local networks are put out. The comments follow claims last week by former Scottish Power chairman Sir Donald Miller who claimed the north transmission network was more vulnerable because of the way wind power was managed.