Ensuring that our network is in the best possible condition is a key part of our commitment to keeping the power flowing all year round – in rural areas we also need to ensure that trees and vegetation are far enough away from our lines to minimise the risk of them striking our equipment in high winds and storms.

And over the years we’ve been using helicopters to complement the ground patrols our teams are carrying out – a key part of our year-round maintenance and inspection programme.

By using helicopters, we’re able to not only cover wide expanse of our network in a relatively short space of time, but from the air we also get a completely different perspective of our network and how it is sitting in relation to local landscape. This second point is vital, as it helps to shape our short and medium-term plans for maintenance, upgrades, tree-cutting and engagement with local landowners.

Ongoing investment is key
As part of our ongoing network resilience programme, we plan to invest around £12.5m maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure across the North East this financial year, an increase of nearly £3m on 2021/22. 

A targeted £2m tree-maintenance programme will also be undertaken to ensure ongoing tree clearance from our infrastructure in line with industry standards. Our teams will be inspecting around 2000km of network, and clearing trees and vegetation away from of around 8000 spans of line (approximately 600km) between now and Spring 2023.

Taking to the skies with STV
We’re really keen to show our customers what we’ve been doing since winter to boost network resilience, and building on the relationships we’ve developed with local media over the years is a great way of showcasing this work. 

As many of you reading this will remember only too well, the north east of Scotland was particularly badly hit by the storms of this past winter, and last week we were joined by a team from STV News as we were carrying out a helicopter patrol across approximately 520km of rural Aberdeenshire – a fantastic way of highlighting the hard work our teams have been doing to strengthen local supplies.

We couldn’t have picked a better day for STV to come fly with us – the clear skies and abundance of sunshine provided excellent conditions for the helicopter patrols, with the TV crew seeing first-hand the hard work our teams have been doing in the field, reconstructing and strengthening the sections of our infrastructure that had been impacted by the storms of this winter past. The photo at the top of this page is one they captured during the flight, where you can see a section of our overhead network that was rebuilt during the storms.

The above photo shows Ryan being interviewed by STV, and to read their report from the afternoon they spent with us, please click here.