Loss of critical infrastructure

Loss of critical infrastructure

Critical Infrastructure is the name given to all of the different essential services which we rely on as part of modern society and the economy.

The UK’s critical infrastructure is made up of electricity, water, gas, oil/fuel, transport, telecoms, food, health and financial services.

Picture: Wiki Commons

…so what is it?

Many parts of the infrastructure network are dependent on one  another e.g. electricity is required at water pumping stations, telecoms and electricity are required to allow cash machines and cash registers to function correctly.

Instances of electricity failure (also referred to as power loss or blackout) can be caused by a number of things, such as severe weather (e.g. very  strong winds, lightning and flooding) which damage the distribution network.

Damage to the National Electricity Transmission System is much more rare but could cause significant electricity disruption and, in extreme cases, a widespread loss of power. These failures could be local, regional or national.

An electricity failure across entire regions or the UK as a whole has not happened before. Were it to occur, impacts would be very severe, causing widespread disruption to many critical sectors and wider society in general.

The National Grid has a recovery process called ‘Black Start’ to recover the network from a total or partial shutdown. This could take up to five days with potential for some additional disruption beyond this timescale in the event of significant network damage.

  • Disruption to essential services and activities
  • Endangerment of vulnerable people
  • Financial impact on businesses
  • Civil unrest
  • Increased demand on emergency services
  • Travel disruption
  • Disruption to business and home life
  • Poor sanitation and lack of drinking wayer
  • Homes could be without heating and have limited ability to heat food/water
  • Limited ability to keep food frozen
  • No ability to get fuel from filling stations
  • Peope unable to get cash from mahcines or make card pruchases
  • Limited telecommunications including mobiles
via Channel 4

Because of our increasing reliance on utilities such as electricity, water and gas for so many aspects of our lives, even localised losses can have a significant impact on those affected.

Rural areas are often the last to be reconnected when there is a disruption to utilities such as gas, water and electricity. During a wide scale incident people who live in the more rural areas of Lincolnshire may be affected for longer than those in the larger towns.

What we do as an LRF…
  • Work with the utility companies to manage supply interruptions
  • Production of multi-agency plans to manage long- term utilities outages
  • Identification of vulnerable people who will need special treatment in the event of a utilities outage
What you can do to help us…
  • If you experience a power cut, you can call ‘105’ to report it and get further information
  • Keep an emergency kit in your home containing items such as a wind-up torch and supplies of tinned food and drinking water
  • Be on alert for bogus callers posing as utility company workers

….a word on Fuel

All organisations rely to some extent on fuel, whether it is for getting staff to work, distributing products or providing services. The availability of fuel within the UK is generally very good; however there have been examples within recent years of brief disruptions to supply on both a regional and national basis.

A disruption could be caused by a number of factors, including scarcity of supply, a technical problem with part of the fuel supply infrastructure, industrial action or public protest. In the event of such a disruption to supply, it is also possible that stocks could be further depleted through increased consumer demand (panic buying).

  • Public and commercial filling stations exhausted within 48 hours
  • Inability to provide essential services to vulnerable individuals
  • Local and national economic impact

Lincolnshire is heavily dependent on roads and has very little mass transit infrastructure. There is also a lower than average take up of public transport.

The proportion of people travelling to work by car in Lincolnshire was 72.4% in 2011 with the average distance travelled to work being 15.6km, substantially above national figures.

What we do as an LRF…
  • Identification of filling stations for essential fuel users such as emergency service vehicles linking to the national emergency plan for fuel
  • Production of multi-agency plans to manage fair distribution of fuel to the public when it is in limited supply
What you can do to help us…
  • Maintain your vehicle so that it is as fuel efficient as possible
  • Minimise journeys during fuel shortages (essential journeys only)
  • Consider other means of conserving fuel, such as car- sharing, public transport, walking or cycling

Name: Bracebridge Power-cuts

Date: 20/09/21

What happened?

A fault in cabling led to a power-cut at 3:45am, causing a variety of house alarms to repeatedly trip and wake up the public.

Lincolnshire Police worked with Western Power (WPD) by communicating via Twitter concerning affected areas and rough timings. WPD then followed-up on these Tweets once emergency work had been completed later on that day.

Whilst minor, even short-lived service loss can heavily impact the average person – even if this is by interrupting their sleep and daily routine.

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Photo Credit: Case: Flick Commons: 1