Scotland’s hydroelectric power stations have received a boost from a warm and wet winter. Energy production in Hydro plants was revealed to be the highest since records began in the 1930s.
This data come from energy company SSE, who run more than 50 hydroelectric schemes across the Highlands, Perth, Kinross, Argyll and Bute.
The high rainfall over winter and the rapid thaw of snow were perfect for hydroelectric production. The previous record for hydroelectric production over a year was 3,890 gigawatt hours (GWh) but the figures for 2011/12 look set to pass the 4,000 GWh mark.
The winter was especially warm; temperatures in Aberdeen airport went as high as 17.2C last Tuesday.
Paul Smith, SSE managing director for generation said that the weather conditions “ensured the continuing success of hydro power as a valued source of renewable energy.”
A local Councillor has described Edinburgh’s attempt to keep the city’s streets safe during the winter season as “impossible for the Council to do, even if they got the Chinese army.”
The comments come as local residents raise concerns about the availability and distribution of grit as predictions of a harsh winter loom. Last year grit bins ran out of salt and members of the public were forced to buy their own or stay in their houses.
Councillor Norman Work, vice-convenor of Health and Social Care, has taken a controversial stance on the issue of whose responsibility it is for gritting Edinburgh’s roads.
Last year, he angered many Edinburgh residents when he said: “A lot of people think the Council should clear the pavements, but I think residents and shopkeepers should do it – unless you’re 90 years old. This is no time for laziness: why not clear your own pavement?
“I remember when people used to clear the pavements outside their own property.”
This year, he is again urging individuals to be more proactive. “People think the council’s going to come and dig their car out of their driveway.”
“If you’re able, get a shovel and help.”
The Council are setting up a scheme for members of the public to register as volunteers to help with the gritting.
Councillor Work said he would pitch in: “I’ve got a pair of wellies – I’ll get out and help.”
Yet he did promise that “there is more money” going towards gritting this year, with the Council having bought more bins and holding open discussions with local residents to improve on last year’s problems.
Suggested strategies include adapting vehicles to have shovels, and dumping builders’ bags of grit onto pavements to supplement the shortage of bins.
However, Work pointed out bureaucratic issues in the system. “Health and safety is preventing the workers who bring the grit to replenish the bins. They bring it, then they can’t walk on the pavement.”
Grit poachers also undermine the Council’s efforts. “Sometimes the Council fill [the bins] and people come and steal it to sell on privately,” Work added.
Distribution and restocking of bins are becoming an increasingly worrying issues for community members.
Gorgie and Dalry was identified as an area with a worryingly small number of salt or grit bins which are allocated unevenly. On Ardmillan Terrace there are two bins, but between there and Haymarket – a distance of two miles – there are no bins, while there are none at all north of Dalry Road.
Rona Brown, Secretary of the Community Council, said: “We shouldn’t have to wait for an accident to happen”.
Local resident Angela Astor expressed concern that they would run out, saying: “There definitely isn’t enough grit in the bins right now to last the winter.” She also claimed people have been urinating on the material making it impossible or difficult to use.
Chair of the local community council Maria Kelly said: “There is concern that the council is trying to dump salt responsibility on the neighbourhood community council.” She requested more salt bins last month, but has not received an acknowledgement from the Council.
The Council website has a map of bin distribution available here. They also invite requests for relocating bins.
As the hours of daylight have started dropping in the UK, so too, has the temperature. With many people suffering last year as a result of snow blizzards and freezing temperatures, preparations are now under way in Scotland to help deal effectively with any issues that the winter weather may bring.
Kelso is aglow again after the gas was turned back on after almost 72 hours without heating.
Gas engineers have been working since Monday morning to fix a problem which had caused 3000 properties in Kelso and 70 in nearby Ednam to go without heating, in some of the coldest weather conditions of the year.
Speaking to Dunedin Napier News, Laura Young, Press officers for Scottish Gas Networks said: “All properties affected were visited by 9:30pm last night and everyone we could get access to had their gas supply turned back on. A few houses we could not gain access to last night will be getting turned on this morning.”
Without gas many properties were unable to cook, wash or heat, but facilities were set up in Kelso High School including a canteen for residents and warm areas to sit. SGN engineers concentrated on ensuring all residents were given temporary heaters.
Laura Young, said: “I would like to congratulate all engineers on working in very cold conditions and dealing as quickly as possible with all customers, especially paying attention to the elderly and vulnerable.”