SHIVERING Britain faces the prospect of gas supply shortages as the worst cold spell in 30 years keeps a stranglehold on the country.
The National Grid yesterday issued only its second-ever warning that demand for energy is threatening to outstrip available supplies unless industry quickly slashes its consumption and more gas is rushed in from abroad.
The alert prompted the wholesale cost of gas to rocket by 70 per cent and raised fears that businesses and households could soon be hit by power cuts if the freezing weather persists as forecast for the rest of the month.
Shadow Energy Secretary Greg Clark warned: “For 12 years the Government has had its head in the sand about Britain’s precarious energy security.
“Today’s alert is a taste of what is to come as a result of Labour’s negligence – gas supply shortages and regular power cuts. I have repeatedly warned that Britain lacks the back-up plans that France and Germany have for these situations.” National Grid issued its warning – known as a gas balancing alert – because an unexpected shortfall meant Britain’s demand was at risk.
Gas was flowing out of the UK’s main storage facility at Rough, 18 miles off the Yorkshire coast, at a record rate yesterday as energy needed for homes and businesses came very close to the previous record high.
Analysts said the freeze combined with the post-New Year return to work created a surge which put intense pressure on supplies and added to the need for expensive additional gas to be pumped in from mainland Europe.Experts have estimated that Britain only has enough gas storage for 15 days so in times of high demand we have to rely on imports.
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ARCTIC CHILL TO LAST 3 MORE WEEKS
by Martyn Brown, Daily Express
BRITAIN’S big freeze is set to last another three weeks, forecasters warned last night as snow began to blanket the nation once again.
Up to eight inches is expected to fall in some areas over the next 24 hours, with wintry showers likely to blast the country throughout the rest of the week.
Temperatures are set to plummet to -14C (7F) as the Siberian winter tightens its icy grip still further.
It has now been so cold for such a prolonged spell that forecasters are predicting the sea could freeze over in some parts. Yesterday the Met Office confirmed that last month was the coldest December since 1996.
Forecaster Helen Chivers said: “Parts of Scotland will get down to -14C this week – very cold indeed. The rest of the UK can expect about -5C (23F) overnight and daytime temperatures of about -3C (26F).
“There isn’t going to be much of a break in it, to be honest, we’re looking at the end of the month.”
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ARCTIC FREEZE TIGHTENS GRIP ON BRITAIN AS ROADS AND SCHOOLS FORCED TO CLOSE
by Emily Garnham for Express.co.uk
THE BIG FREEZE tightened its grip on Britain today as Arctic conditions crippled transport systems and forced the closure of schools, roads and airports.
As forecasters predicted one of the coldest winters in 100 years, supermarkets saw a surge in panic buying as shoppers stocked up on essentials, as well as anti-freeze products, boots and thermal underwear to protect against sub-zero temperatures.
The mercury fell as low as minus 10C (14F) across parts of England overnight, with no end in sight to the bitterly cold weather and heavy snow coming from Norway and North Pole, which is expected to push southwards.
The National Grid warned power suppliers to use less gas after seeing a 30 per cent rise on normal seasonal demand during the prolonged cold snap.
But Prime Minister Gordon Brown today denied the country was facing a gas supply crisis, saying: “There are always difficulties when we have a long spell of bad weather. But we can cope.”
Manchester Airport and the John Lennon Airport in Liverpool were temporarily closed, while passengers at Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Leeds Bradford International all faced delayed flight departures.
Ten East Coast Main Line rail services between London and Leeds were among the train journeys which had to be axed.
On the roads, heavy snow caused a section of the A66 to be shut in both directions in Cumbria and a succession of accidents added to drivers’ difficulties on many routes.
Senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, Stephen Davenport, said: “This is stretching the limits of short to medium-term forecasting but so entrenched is this cold-weather pattern that it seems only a major upheaval in the atmosphere will bring a return to something milder.
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Source Link: express.co.uk