‘Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario’: UK Govt Wargaming ‘Week Long’ Black Out Scenarios

A senior man investigates his fuse box at home - by the light of a candle only - in a blac
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The British government has reportedly begun “war gaming” scenarios in which energy blackouts could last up to one week in the event of disruptions to the national grid.

According to documents classified as “official sensitive” seen by The Guardian newspaper, the government has laid out a “reasonable worst-case scenario” in which the country could see communications, energy, food and water supplies, and transport networks “severely disrupted”.

The plans, which were first put into place in 2021 but have been updated in light of the energy crisis in Europe, will focus specifically on providing shelter, water, and food to the vulnerable such as the young, elderly, and those in need of medical care. The paper went on to claim that the government has been carrying out test exercises across the country for Programme Yarrow, a secret contingency plan in the event Britain faces large-scale power outages.

The leaked documents come as the head of the National Grid, John Pettigrew, told the Financial Times on Wednesday that households in the UK are going to find the winter months “financially very, very hard” even though the government has announced subsidies to cap the price of energy as well as direct payment £400 rebates to households to mitigate the spike in costs, which have doubled over last year.

“Even with the [taxpayer-funded] price cap this is a doubling-up of what people are used to paying for their energy bills,” Pettigrew said. “Therefore inevitably there are going to be people who are going to struggle.”

The National Grid chief has previously warned that there is a possibility of rolling blackouts throughout the country between 4pm and 7pm daily during “really, really cold” days in the months of January and February.

Last month, the energy generation regulator for England, Scotland and Wales, Ofgem also warned that there is a “signifigant risk” of gas shortages this winter. Ofgem went onto detail plans for such an event, including a media blitz to try to convince Britons to curb their energy usage by using “radio or television… relevant social media… posters and leaflets drops”, and issuing “an appeal to ‘use as little gas as possible’.”

It has also been reported that the BBC has begun preparing emergency radio broadcasts to reassure and inform the public in the event of blackouts and disruptions in banking systems, internet access, mobile phone networks, and traffic lights.

The UK is not reliant on Russian gas imports like much of continental Europe. However, due to over a decade of failure ny the ruling Conservative Party to secure energy independence for the nation by tapping its own gas reserves or pursuing nuclear power, the nation still imports a large amount of energy during the winter months from continental Europe.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss came to an agreement Belgium, France and the Netherlands in October to keep the electricity flowing during the winter in exchange for opening up British territory in the North Sea to European wind farm projects, yet there is no guarantee that the commitments will be met should the countries face their own shortages.

Commenting on the looming possibility of blackouts this winter, Reform UK party leader Richard Tice said on Wednesday: “Westminster’s Net Zero is cause of this madness.”

Mr Tice, who has long been an advocate of tapping into Britain’s natural resources, such as the Bowland shale gas deposits, added: “We sit on a century of our own energy treasure, yet face week long blackouts. Net Zero = net poorer.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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