Tayside and Central Scotland

Clackmannanshire gas leak: Engineers work to restore supplies

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Media captionEngineers from Scotland Gas Networks must visit every affected property, first to turn off the gas supplies, then to turn them back on

Engineers are starting to restore gas supplies to some Clackmannanshire homes after a pipe was accidentally severed, leaving some 3,500 people unconnected.

It is understood the pipe was severed by a farmer doing drainage work near Fishcross, and homes were affected in Dollar, Tillicoultry and Fishcross.

Scotland Gas Networks (SGN) said it hoped to have most of Dollar reconnected by Wednesday night.

It said restoration work would begin in Tillicoultry on Thursday lunchtime.

The company said it also hoped to have the vast majority of affected properties in the town reconnected by Thursday night, and that the village of Coalsnaughton could see supplies resume on Wednesday, depending on the progress made by engineers.

SGN said it had made a permanent repair to the broken gas pipe at about 01:00 on Wednesday.

Image caption The gas main suffered "significant damage" but has now been repaired

However, it added it still had to gain access to 150 homes to switch off the gas, before supplies can be safely restored.

A spokesman said: "Our incident centre at Tillicoultry Community Centre in Institution Place will remain open until 10pm this evening, where residents can collect electric appliances for heating and cooking."

Dollar Academy remained closed on Wednesday, with about 1,200 pupils told to stay at home as the school's heating will not be working. All other schools in the area were expected to be open as usual.

Some of those affected complained of poor communication from SGN in the wake of the leak.

One woman from Tillicoultry told BBC Scotland: "We saw plenty of vans but no-one came to say anything, so I don't know anything. Why has there been no information?

"It was an accident that happened, we all understand that, but I thought pipes were under the ground a lot lower than a farmer is digging".

Locksmiths used

Another resident said: "About three o'clock (on Tuesday afternoon) the heating went down and it has been extremely cold overnight - very, very cold. No hot water, no heating.

"It is quite disappointing in this day and age that this kind of thing happens, but unfortunately it's just life and you get on with it."

The company said the pipe had been repaired overnight and the leak stopped - but engineers had to visit every customer to check it is safe to restore supplies.

People were being asked to stay at home rather than go to work until their gas had been switched off, or to leave the key with a neighbour, relative or friend.

SGN said they were using locksmiths and the police to help gain access to any homes where they had not been able to get inside.

Image caption Homes in Fishcross, Dollar and Tillicoultry have been affected

Anne Neilson, from SGN, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme the firm had not been given notification that the farmer intended to do do any work in the area, so had been unable to advise him of the pipe's exact location.

She added: "It has been quite significant damage which has obviously caused quite a considerable amount of disruption to 3,500 customers. We have been trying to keep customers updated, and have got updates on our website. We will continue to be doing that throughout today (Wednesday).

"We have to go round and make sure for safety reasons that gas is turned off and appliances are turned off in the home.

"At the same time, our engineers have been working throughout the night to repair the damaged main, to stop the leak and to actually carry out a permanent repair on the pipe that has been damaged.

"Obviously it is quite difficult to say, but we would hope that we may be in a position by the end of today to start turning on some customers - but if not, certainly tomorrow."

Elderly and vulnerable residents have been given temporary heaters and cooking equipment.

SGN also added that anyone who had been without gas for more than 24 hours would be eligible for compensation.

The money will paid automatically, but could take several weeks to be processed.

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