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Generators arrive in Sark in case plug pulled

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EMERGENCY generators have started arriving in Sark as the sole energy provider prepares to cut electricity while leading figures compare the situation to wartime.

Sark has brought in mobile generators to power a ‘central hub’ if Sark Electricity goes ahead with its threat to cut supplies at the end of the month, Inset, Seigneur Christopher Beaumont responded to claims that islanders would be forced to leave by saying the SEL would not succeed where the Germans failed.

A large generator which will be used to power a ‘central hub’ and ‘command centre’ arrived in the island on Tuesday – 10 days ahead of the planned power outage deadline.

Smaller devices – to be used to generate electricity in communal cooking centres – are due to be shipped to Sark in the next few days.

Sark’s Seigneur, Christopher Beaumont, has written to islanders to say that if Sark Electricity carried out its threat, there would be a loss of power for at least six hours.

Talks have taken place with Guernsey and the UK about the situation.

‘I judge it vital that the island never again be held to ransom in this manner,’ he said.

He has made himself available to emergency services to help in ‘any arising crisis’ using his army experience and urged others to step forward if they could help.

Sark Electricity managing director David Gordon-Brown has said people would leave if the power was cut.

‘I feel sure that where the German Occupation failed so will he,’ said Mr Beaumont.

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‘I certainly have no intention of letting that happen, especially as he is refusing to abide by a fair independent ruling and Sark law.’

The dispute started earlier this year when Sark’s price control commissioner ordered the energy firm to cut its price per kWh from 66p to 52p from August.

SEL claims it has since lost £20,000 per month and can no longer afford to operate.

It plans to cut its general supply on 30 November, and in a statement last week warned that residents would have no option but to leave the island.

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Chief Pleas has since rolled out contingency plans in an attempt to maintain power for the 500 residents.

Politician William Raymond said: ‘The big generator has already arrived and this will be used to power the central hub, which will include the Island Hall, the medical centre and a large shed where there will be freezers. It will also power the command centre.

‘Subsidiary generators will also be arriving and these will power other outlets where people can congregate and cook meals. In addition to this, people are also bringing in their own small generators for their homes.’

Asked if people still feared having to leave the island, Mr Raymond replied: ‘Our plan is really well advanced now – people have come together and volunteered to help. We have had to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. If people have to leave it will be out of choice, rather than necessity.’

In a statement posted on the SEL website, Mr Gordon-Brown said that Chief Pleas had ‘tried hard to put us in a position where we can no longer supply electricity’.

‘I believe Chief Pleas has now discovered it is unlikely to be given emergency powers [to ensure the power station continues to operate] and is talking about “wartime spirit” and is preparing to use the livelihoods of the islanders as pawns in their power game,’ he claimed.

Mr Gordon-Brown said he still hoped to mount a legal challenge to the price control order, but, with limited finances, may have to represent himself in court.

‘They say “the man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client”. But even a fool should be able to prove that a price is unfair when it causes us to lose £20,000 a month,’ he said.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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