FIVE years on from the devastation caused by storms Desmond and Eva, Electricity North West are now launching a multi-million pound winter protection programme.

Throughout the region, the Winter Be Ready Programme will involve engineers working on a £6m process which includes improving flood defences at some of its key sites.

Meanwhile arborists have been working year-round to manage trees which could be a potential threat to powerful overhead lines if hit by strong winds.

Electricity North West operations director Clive Wilkinson said: “Each year, we make a significant investment to ensure our network is robust and less susceptible to power cuts.

“Typically, the winter months bring treacherous conditions, and this is why we deploy a winter programme where we ensure the network is protected for customers.

“Now more than ever, we are reliant on electricity and we are committed to keeping the power flowing day in, day out.”

Parts of the North West saw record levels of rainfall when Storm Desmond hit the region on December 5, 2015, leading rivers to burst their banks and causing an estimated half a billion pounds in damage in Cumbria alone.

In Lancaster, 55,000 people were left without power after defences on the River Lune that had been designed to withstand a one-in-100 years flood were breached, overwhelming the city’s main substation.

Meanwhile in Cumbria, 13,000 people were left without power after a number of smaller substations were flooded in Carlisle and throughout the county.

Now, half a decade on engineers are carrying out regular maintenance on the network which can mean planned power cuts so that work can be carried out safely.

During winter, these planned power cuts are shorter to reduce impact on customers.

Electricity North West is also encouraging people to sign up to its free priority service register to get advanced notice of planned power cuts needed for maintenance, and weather warnings when forecasts are predicted to affect power supplies.

If there is an unplanned power cut, the company says that those on the register will get prioritised and enhanced communication throughout and even practical help such as torches and hot food and drink in some instances.

For more information about Electricity North West’s Be Winter Ready campaign, visit