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The National Grid’s electricity system operator and gas system operator will release one of their regular winter outlook reports later.

They are designed to set out supply and demand scenarios as the weather gets colder and energy consumption tends to peak.

Amid an energy security and price crisis, this year’s outlook report has taken on particular significance, especially after the energy regulator Ofgem warned earlier this week that “due to the war in Ukraine and gas shortages in Europe, there (is) a significant risk that gas shortages could occur during the winter”.

“As a result, there is a possibility that (the UK) could enter into a gas supply emergency.”

There are lots of things that will impact the National Grid’s report and ultimately how confident it feels that the lights will stay on.

Supply is a critical issue

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Risk of emergency gas shortage

About half of the UK’s gas comes from the North Sea, but we import the rest either through pipes, or interconnectors, from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium or via liquid natural gas shipments (LNG) from big producers like America and Qatar.

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This supply is vital not just because 85% of UK homes rely on gas for heating, but also because the UK gets 40% of its electricity from gas fired power stations.

And although the UK doesn’t get very much gas at all from Russia, Europe does. If Russia further throttles supply to the continent, there could be knock on effects for the UK in the form of supply issues, rocketing prices, or both.

The UK is particularly exposed because of its limited gas storage facilities, meaning it can’t fall back on its own reserves in the same way that Germany can, for example.

Additionally the UK has to compete on the global market, particularly against Asia, for LNG shipments which make up about 17% of the gas supplied to the UK through production and imports.

UK’s large LNG imports infrastructure is an advantage

The UK has a big LNG imports infrastructure which gives it an advantage, but the predicted stability of this market will have a big impact on the National Grid’s risk assessment, as will any further predicted issues with the supply of electricity generated by France’s nuclear power stations, many of which have been offline for maintenance.

The National Grid will also estimate how much wind and solar power we can expect to generate in the coming months too, and how much “back up” electricity can be generated by some of the UK’s remaining coal fired power stations.

Wind farm

This brings us to the issue of demand.

In a tight situation, if supply cannot be increased, demand must be reduced.

Read more:
Energy bills capped at £2,500 a year from October
Back onshore wind and solar farms to solve winter fuel crisis, say experts
Eye-watering energy price cap may save businesses… but comes at a serious cost

Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged there won’t be energy rationing this winter but that is a bold promise to make.

Writing in The Times today, ahead of the inaugural European Political Community summit in Prague, she urged European leaders to work together “this winter so we keep the lights on across the continent”.

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Energy price rise: ‘It’s hideous’

But other European countries have already asked consumers to reduce consumption during peak hours and have been open about the possibility of energy rationing, beginning with big industry, should that be necessary.

There could be public awareness campaign asking people to use less energy

The National Grid has previously stressed that the blackout risk for homes is “very unlikely”, but in the spirit of preventing an emergency shortage is also consulting on measures like paying homes and businesses to reduce electricity and gas consumption if asked.

Separately the government might launch a public awareness campaign to ask (rather than tell) consumers use less.

And it is worth saying that despite Liz Truss’s promise, the government and the National Grid routinely updates plans for what is known as a “reasonable worst case scenario”, in which a combination of very cold weather and serious supply issues causes an energy shortage that requires rationing, rather than risking uncontrolled blackouts.

If this were to happen, gas fired power stations could be closed and big industrial users could be prevented from using energy.

There is also the possibility of electricity to households being turned off during critical hours, although the government has stressed this is unlikely.

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‘Is today the day I’ll be diagnosed with cancer?’ Infected blood victim’s life turned upside down

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'Is today the day I'll be diagnosed with cancer?' Infected blood victim's life turned upside down

“Every morning I wake up and there is a small part of me that thinks, ‘Is today the day I’m going to be diagnosed with some sort of cancer?'”

This is the question Susan Lee asks herself every day. It is part of the mental anguish of living with Hepatitis C.

Susan was born with Von Willebrand disease.

As a child, her blood clotting disorder was treated with a product called Factor 8. It was supposed to revolutionise treatment for haemophiliacs.

Susan Lee with her father
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Susan with her father

Instead the American product farmed from prisoners and drug addicts was infected with HIV and Hepatitis. It was never screened or treated before being injected into the veins of patients.

The risks were known. Susan’s father raised concerns.

“I remember specifically on one occasion he went into the consulting room and spoke to my consultant,” says Susan.

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“[He] said, ‘I’m very worried about this, and I want you to let me know if Susan has or will receive any American blood products’.

“And he said to my father, ‘Absolutely not’.”

Susan Lee
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Hepatitis C has had a devasting impact on every part of Susan’s life

However, at 14, Susan discovered she had been infected with Hepatitis C, like thousands of other patients in the worst NHS treatment scandal in history.

Susan believes patients like her were exposed to great risk and potential death to increase profits for the companies that were producing these blood products.

Read more:
Boy, 7, was used in secret trials before HIV infection, parents say
Grant Shapps ‘angry inside’ over infected blood scandal

“I think unfortunately it always comes down to cost implications. And we know that American blood products were cheaper from those big pharmaceutical companies.

“We know there were other treatment options available. There were German products that were out there and could have been used, but at a higher price point, and they were not chosen.”

The Hepatitis C infection has had a devasting impact on every part of Susan’s life. She has had to give up her career as a barrister.

Susan Lee
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Susan with her mother

“It’s been a really, really difficult time for us as a family. And it’s intergenerational because we were given these products to take home, my parents were taught how to inject. My mother has a huge feeling of guilt surrounding that,” she says.

“Three weeks ago, she sat me down and said, ‘I’m so terribly sorry.’

“I said, ‘You’ve got absolutely nothing to be sorry for. It was nothing to do with you. You did your best’.

“Also my children, from having witnessed the times that I was really, really sick, you know, my daughters asking me, ‘Mummy, why can’t you run in the school races and for sports day?’

“Because I could barely lift my head off the pillow to get out of bed to be there.”

Later this morning, Susan and the thousands of other victims of the infected blood scandal will get answers to the decades-long search for the truth.

Westminster’s Methodist’s Central Hall where Sir Brian Langstaff will deliver his report into the infected blood scandal
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Westminster’s Methodist’s Central Hall where Sir Brian Langstaff will deliver his report into the infected blood scandal

At Westminster’s Methodist’s Central Hall just after midday, Sir Brian Langstaff will deliver his report into the infected blood scandal. It is expected to be damning.

Des Collins, senior partner of Collins Solicitors which represents 1,500 victims and their families, said the inquiry chair is likely to hold many people accountable.

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“If you are going to point the finger at someone, you’ve got to give them notice and it’s that notice process which has delayed [the report] probably for the last six months. So a lot of people will have the finger pointed at them.

“They will be held accountable for each individual part of the scandal, which is appropriate insofar as their involvement is concerned.

“I don’t think we’re going to get the finger pointed at one person saying, ‘You are responsible for the whole thing,’ because there are so many people involved in it and they’re all making individual decisions.”

Westminster’s Methodist’s Central Hall
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Westminster’s Methodist’s Central Hall

The significance of this moment cannot be overstated.

The great hall will be full of people infected with deadly diseases in secret trials, bereaved parents who saw their children die and all of the others affected by this preventable tragedy.

The atmosphere will be charged with emotion, anger and hopefully relief.

The delay in delivering justice has compounded the grief and anguish felt by so many. After being lied to and ignored for decades, they finally have their day.

This report must mark the beginning of the end of this shameful scandal.

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Sky News will have full coverage of the infected blood report on TV, online and on the Sky News app today

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‘Mum was given a death sentence’: 100 stories from infected blood scandal

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'Mum was given a death sentence': 100 stories from infected blood scandal

“Losing Gary, my soul mate, was beyond painful,” says Kathryn Croucher, whose husband died aged 42 in 2010.

“Every day was a struggle dealing with the knowledge he was HIV and Hepatitis C positive.”

“Mum always said she was given a death sentence,” recalls Ronan Fitzgerald. His mother, Jane, died aged 54 after being infected with Hepatitis C when she was 16. “It was a ticking time bomb.”

Infected blood inquiry Sky News promo image

Sky News will have full coverage of the infected blood report on TV, online and on the Sky News app today.

More than 30,000 Britons were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 3,000 people have died as a result of the scandal, while many more still live under the shadow of health problems, debilitating treatments and stigma. Now, the findings of a public inquiry, first announced in 2017, will finally be published.

These are 100 faces of infected blood victims that either they, or their families, have shared with Sky News.

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Brixham: People remain scared to drink tap water as things slowly return to normal after parasite disease outbreak

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Brixham: People remain scared to drink tap water as things slowly return to normal after parasite disease outbreak

“I’m never drinking tap water again,” Kayley Lewis says.

“My symptoms have made me lose a stone in two weeks.”

Ms Lewis and her two children have been suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps for over a fortnight – since South West Water found small traces of the parasite cryptosporidium in the Hillhead reservoir.

“I can’t trust them [South West Water] again.

“I might start using tap water for dishes… but definitely never to drink. Ever.

“I’ve been completely put off now… especially because of how poorly it makes you feel.

“I just don’t think I could ever try and risk going back to that.”

Pic: PA
Image:
A bottled water collection point in Devon. Pic: PA

At least 46 people are confirmed to have the disease, while as many as 70 other cases of diarrhoea and vomiting are also under investigation, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

South West Water (SWW) has repeatedly apologised – telling Sky News today that they are working “around the clock” to get all households back to using safe water again.

This could be as early as this Wednesday, drought and resilience director at SWW David Harris told me.

“We’re looking at somewhere between mid to late next week before we’ll be in a position to be able to responsibly lift that boil water notice.”

David Harris said it could be a couple of weeks before the boil water notice
Image:
David Harris said it could be a couple of weeks before the boil water notice is lifted

So far, 14,500 households in the Alston supply area can drink their tap water without boiling it first – as advised by SWW.

However, some 2,500 homes in Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear have been told to continue boiling – and cooling – their water supplies before drinking it.

Steve Price, who runs the Station Guest House B&B near Brixham, said he lost a couple of thousand pounds in bookings due to – understandably – paranoid customers.

“Losses we anticipate are roughly around £2000 from people that have cancelled and directly stated that the cancellation was due to the water situation.

“So we would anticipate that at the bare minimum as compensation.”

Read more
Contamination ‘shouldn’t have happened’, SWW boss says
Water firm apologises after parasite detected in reservoir
Parasite outbreak has ‘destroyed’ business, residents say

Kayley Lewis has been drinking bottled water since the disease outbreak
Image:
Kayley Lewis has been drinking bottled water since the disease outbreak

Mr Price has spent the afternoon emptying the B&B’s water tanks in order to minimise the risk to his guests.

“In terms of money – we’re just flushing it away!

“A couple of hundred pounds worth. But this supply feeds the showers, sinks and bathrooms.

“It needs to be completely emptied and cleaned to avoid risks”.

Mr Price’s business isn’t the only one suffering.

It’s a bleak picture across the neighbouring towns.

This time of year Brixham is usually buzzing with holidaymakers – especially by the harbour side.

The past week, however, has been another story.

“It’s a ghost town”, Sally Tollon, an employee at a local chippy tells me.

“We’re really quiet… you can see it’s empty, because people are frightened to come down because of the water situation.

“On average we make a thousand pounds a day. Yesterday we did half of that.”

Sally Tollon's says the fish and chip shop where she works is losing money
Image:
Sally Tollon says the fish and chip shop where she works is losing money

Despite things slowly getting back to normal, people are scared.

They have lost faith and trust in a water supply – one woman told me – they had “always taken for granted”.

It’s clear rebuilding the community’s trust and confidence in their water supplier will take some time in the coming weeks and months.

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