Firearm suspected as cause of power cuts to 8,000 in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire

Western Power Distribution have been carrying out helicopter patrols.
Western Power Distribution have been carrying out helicopter patrols.

Helicopter patrols and a police investigation are underway to determine whether a firearm being shot at an electricity component is behind power cuts to around 8,000 customers during the past week.

A spate of power cuts since last Wednesday have hit thousands of homes and businesses in the Bingham, Hawton, Caythorpe, Sibthorpe and Bottesford areas.

Western Power Distribution (WPD), the electricity distribution company serving the East Midlands, has carried out helicopter patrols to check the condition of the high voltage overhead network. From this they have been able to pinpoint damage to a component, which was consistent with having been caused by a firearm.

The matter has been reported to police and engineers have carried out repeated repairs, after two further interruptions to electricity supplies were experienced by customers and similar damage to the electricity network identified,

Eirian Llewellyn, WPD’s team manager for the area, said: “Power lines carry extremely high voltages and interfering with them in any way is potentially lethal. It can put at risk the lives of our engineers who have to repair and replace them if they have been left in an unsafe condition.

“Similarly, other innocent people can become victims if the lines are brought down.”

Mr Llewellyn stressed that safety is WPD’s number one priority, and there was concern after the three incidents. He urged anyone who sees anything suspicious in the area to report it to the police.

“Such incidents can also be incredibly inconvenient for customers if they cause power cuts – especially for people relying on electricity for things like dialysis.

“Patrolling by helicopter to take a bird’s eye view, provides the fastest and most effective way to carry out checks on large sections of our network. Repair work can then be undertaken before it becomes a problem that risks disrupting customers’ power supplies,” he added.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman confirmed that they had been alerted by WPD to the damage caused at a substation on Bowbridge Lane in New Balderton, Newark, stating: “Enquiries are on-going to ascertain exactly how the damage was caused, but at this stage it appears the substation was struck by a projectile, most likely fired from an air rifle.

“We would urge anyone with information about this incident to get in touch to help us find the person responsible for this offence. Damaging an electricity substation is a mindless and dangerous act which also has the potential to impact on the electricity supply to many houses in the nearby area.

“Anyone with information should call Nottinghamshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 336 of 24 May 2016.”