Autumn emergency for bts

December 02, 2020

At the start of autumn, the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk in the UK were hit by flooding and gales. As winds picked up and faults started coming in, tree surgeon bts, part of the RSK group, was on standby to assist. As a leading tree and vegetation management business providing arboricultural support for major utility infrastructure companies across the UK, including UK Power Networks (UKPN), bts was all too aware that the strong winds could lead to falling trees and consequent power outages.

The system emergency for Bury St Edmunds and Colchester in Suffolk and for Norfolk was confirmed at 17:30 on Friday, 25 September, so three bts senior authorised persons and five cutting teams worked from then until the early hours of Saturday morning to get people back on-grid. By 03:00, the conditions in which gusts were reaching 67 mph made the work too dangerous to continue.

As the storm eased off over the day on Saturday, the team was back on the job and worked until the early hours of the next morning. In total, UKPN had more than 240 high-voltage cable faults over the weekend and, at the height of the crisis, about 400,000 customers without power.

“The incredibly challenging weekend was handled well by bts staff, both operationally and in the field,” said bts Group Managing Director Hal McCallum. “We received some excellent feedback from UKPN.”

Steve Ross, UKPN Area Tree Contracts Manager, commented, “I would just like to say thank you to all your tree trimming staff who helped out during this system emergency in the Norwich patch; they have been absolutely brilliant. Also, I would like to thank your managers Ross [Leeks] and Josh [Terry] for helping in the first wave. A special thank you goes to Jim Clark, who has been outstanding since he took over [after the first wave].”

“Just a note to say they [Mark Smith, Alex Johnston, Dave Keylock, Dave Spoel, Callum Gould and Craig Atwell] were all good guys that worked well. Please pass on my thanks,” added Dale Harrison, UKPN Distribution Planning Engineer.

“These guys have worked exceptionally hard over the last few days,” responded Steve. “I know they will appreciate your thanks. They have certainly got mine as well for the great effort that they have all put in during this system emergency.”

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