BBC prepares emergency broadcasts in case of a UK-wide power outage this winter

 

The BBC has reportedly prepared a series of secret scripts to be read out on air in case of blackouts amid energy shortages this winter.

The scripts would advise the public to use their car radios or battery-powered devices to tune into to emergency BBC broadcasts via FM frequencies and would seek to keep the public informed in the event of a ‘major loss of power’, The Guardian reported.

One script seen by a Guardian reporter allegedly warns that a blackout could last for up to two days, with hospitals and police placed under ‘extreme pressure’, while another says: ‘The government has said it’s hoped power will be restored in the next 36 to 48 hours.’

The scripts are said to have been produced as part of the BBC’s role in broadcasting vital health and safety communications to the public on behalf of the government in the event of national emergencies.

MailOnline has contacted the BBC for comment. 

It comes as National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said the firm may need to introduce rolling power cuts across Britain in January and February, should the nation fail to secure enough gas supplies from Europe.  

Speaking at the Financial Times’s Energy Transition Summit earlier this week, Pettigrew warned that Britain’s gas-fired power stations, which generate a large portion of the nation’s power, are facing a considerable scarcity of fuel. 

The BBC has reportedly prepared a series of secret scripts to be read out on air in case of blackouts amid energy shortages this winter (Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London, is pictured)

The BBC has reportedly prepared a series of secret scripts to be read out on air in case of blackouts amid energy shortages this winter (Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London, is pictured)

Radio newsreader Alan Rogers tells listeners about the power crisis - with candles lighting his studio. An electricity cut blacked out Radio London's headquarters as Alan was about to go on the air 10/2/72. But programmes continued, with candles and car batteries providing emergency lighting

Radio newsreader Alan Rogers tells listeners about the power crisis - with candles lighting his studio. An electricity cut blacked out Radio London's headquarters as Alan was about to go on the air 10/2/72. But programmes continued, with candles and car batteries providing emergency lighting

Radio newsreader Alan Rogers tells listeners about the power crisis – with candles lighting his studio. An electricity cut blacked out Radio London’s headquarters as Alan was about to go on the air 10/2/72. But programmes continued, with candles and car batteries providing emergency lighting

National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said the firm may need to introduce rolling power cuts across Britain in January and February

National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said the firm may need to introduce rolling power cuts across Britain in January and February

National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said the firm may need to introduce rolling power cuts across Britain in January and February

According to The Guardian, the BBC’s draft scenario suggests that in a national blackout it would run a reduced temporary radio service from the UK’s emergency broadcasting centre (EBC) in an undisclosed rural location.

EBC service would provide intermittent news bulletins on Radio 4’s FM and long-wave frequencies and a ‘music service’, with news updates on the FM spectrum used by Radio 2.

The broadcasts are designed to keep the public abreast of essential safety information, provide updates on the severity and duration of blackouts, and to encourage citizens to refrain from putting excessive pressure on emergency services unless absolutely necessary.

In the event of a blackout, mobile phone networks, internet access, cashpoints and traffic lights are among some of the services that would fail. 

The risk of blackouts recalls the 1970s when strikes by miners and railway workers forced Ted Heath’s government to introduce planned power cuts to conserve energy.

Energy regulator Ofgem has said British households should reduce their gas and electricity use where possible this winter to help cut costs and reduce the risk of power cuts.

National Grid meanwhile is setting up a scheme that will pay households and companies for reducing their demand during periods of limited supply.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a secure and diverse energy system.

‘To strengthen this position further, we have put plans in place to secure supply and National Grid, working alongside energy suppliers and Ofgem, will launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times.’

But Britons are already preparing for the worst case scenario by stocking-up on portable generators and torches in addition to winter clothing, thermal underwear and candles, according to industry reports.

John Pettigrew (pictured) said National Grid, which oversees the UK's electricity and gas networks, would need to introduce rolling power cuts on 'really, really cold' weekdays in January and February if the UK failed to secure enough natural gas from Europe

John Pettigrew (pictured) said National Grid, which oversees the UK's electricity and gas networks, would need to introduce rolling power cuts on 'really, really cold' weekdays in January and February if the UK failed to secure enough natural gas from Europe

John Pettigrew (pictured) said National Grid, which oversees the UK’s electricity and gas networks, would need to introduce rolling power cuts on ‘really, really cold’ weekdays in January and February if the UK failed to secure enough natural gas from Europe

Speaking at the Financial Times's Energy Transition Summit earlier this week, Pettigrew warned that Britain's gas-fired power stations, which generate a large portion of the nation's power, are facing a considerable scarcity of fuel (National Grid control centre pictured)

Speaking at the Financial Times's Energy Transition Summit earlier this week, Pettigrew warned that Britain's gas-fired power stations, which generate a large portion of the nation's power, are facing a considerable scarcity of fuel (National Grid control centre pictured)

Speaking at the Financial Times’s Energy Transition Summit earlier this week, Pettigrew warned that Britain’s gas-fired power stations, which generate a large portion of the nation’s power, are facing a considerable scarcity of fuel (National Grid control centre pictured)

Comparing data from the first 11 days of October 2021 to the same period this year showed a 203 per cent increase in sales of generators and a 43 per cent increase in sales of torches and head torches, Toolstation, part of Travis Perkins, Britain’s biggest building materials retailer, said on Friday.

‘Although it’s far from certain that the National Grid will have to resort to blackouts this winter, it’s clear customers are preparing for this worst case scenario,’ a Toolstation spokesman said, noting the generators can be used to power electrical equipment such as lamps, fan heaters and TVs.

The Toolstation data chimes with a report this week from market researcher Kantar which said Britons were stocking-up on candles and duvets.

Department store chain John Lewis last week said people were stockpiling thermal underwear, gloves and dressing gowns.

Meanwhile, millions of British households face a ‘cliff-edge’ of soaring energy bills next year after Jeremy Hunt drastically cut short the Government’s support scheme from two years to six months.

The new Chancellor said Monday the scheme, which aims to keep average annual household bills below £2,500 amid soaring energy prices, will be replaced in April.

Instead, he promised ‘targeted help’ for the poorest families. However, analysts have warned the move could see average bills double to more than £5,000 for some households.

 

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