THREE power workers who were airlifted to safety after being trapped in
their vehicle for five hours in deep snow and sub-zero temper-atures were
fleeing their substation because they had run out of fuel to keep warm.
The men were working on a wind farm more than 2,000 feet up above Loch Ness.
Mountain rescue teams and a helicopter were sent on Thursday to free the
trio, who were stranded in their vehicle between the substation they were
working on and the main accommodation site below.
At a height of more than 2050ft above sea-level, Stronelairg wind farm is
one of the highest wind farms built.
Willie Anderson, leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, said the men
were freezing inside their substation because the heating generator had run
out of fuel.
He said: “There were five people inside the substation and they were pretty
cold. They had been there for something like 14 hours in total. Two of them
managed to use a skidoo (like a snowmobile) to reach the main base and
raise the alarm.
“The other three then set off in a tracked all-terrain vehicle but got
stuck in the snow drifts, which were pretty enormous. They were trapped, in
effect, inside a metal box for hours. One of the men was especially cold.
It was sub-zero outside.
“If the helicopter had not managed to get in we were facing an epic rescue.
We would have had to walk miles through huge snowdrifts in blizzards. I
don’t know what state the trapped workers would have been in.
“Where they were is 10 miles from a public road – it would have been a real
challenge to reach them, warm them up and get them to safety. They were
very fortunate the helicopter reached them when it did.”
Due to the remote location of the wind farm substation, a temporary
accommodation camp has been established on top of the mountain to house the
Cairngorm MRT headed to the trapped trio in Glen Doe, above Fort Augustus,
as well as a Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Inverness.
The helicopter winched the men to safety at 5.30pm and took them to
Inverness, to be met by an ambulance to take them to Raigmore Hospital.
Their condition is unknown but a spokeswoman for the Maritime and
Coastguard Agency said they were “very cold but stable”.
The men are all contractors working on the major 66-turbine wind farm.
Energy giant SSE won permission after a bitter battle with conservationists
for the controversial 225MW Stronelairg scheme on the Garrogie estate,
close to its Glendoe hydro electric scheme.
The three rescued men were working for contractors Siemens-BAM on behalf of
SSE’s transmissions arm – Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.
They tried to keep warm by huddling together and periodically switching the
engine on to heat the vehicle.
A spokesman for both SSEN and the contractors said the three men had not
needed to stay in hospital after being given a medical check over.Hr said:
“They were working in a substation area and there was a fault with a
generator that provided heating. They managed to get to an adjacent
building, which did have heating. But when they tried to reach the main
accommodation block below they got stranded in their vehicle, which was