TWO satellite dishes from Elon Musk's SpaceX company have been bought by East Lothian Council, it was revealed at a meeting today.

Emergency plans to deal with a nationwide powercut are being drawn up by the council amid warnings it could lead to deaths in the county.

A meeting of elected members was told on Tuesday that work was already under way to prepare for a national blackout, with generators able to provide eight days of energy for essential services.

And it was revealed that the council had bought two satellite dishes from the SpaceX firm to provide back-up internet connection in the event of losing connection; one has already been used.

East Lothian Courier: A Starlink mobile unit like this has been deployed at Knox Academy to provide internet support. pic courtesy ELC PERMISSION FOR USE FREE FOR ALL LDR PARTNERSStarlink mobile units like this have been bought by East Lothian Council. Image courtesy of East Lothian Council

Councillors were told that a national power outage had for the first time been added to its Corporate Risk Register, which looks at potential dangers facing the local authority and rates the possibility of them happening.

A report to members said that the National Electricity Transmission System (NETS) transported electricity across Great Britain.

It said: “Total failure of this system would cause a nationwide loss of electricity supplies instantaneously and without warning.

"This would cause cascading failures across multiple sectors including telecoms, water, gas, sewage, food, health and fuel, and cause significant disruption to public service provision and most businesses and households.

“These disruptions could lead to physical and psychological casualties or fatalities due to the loss of the services relied upon by many, especially those with health and wellbeing vulnerabilities.

“The council must be prepared, as best we can, to respond and recover should widespread electricity failure ever occur.

“Communications will be seriously interrupted, the care of vulnerable people will become hugely challenging and the continued provision of our critical activities will be seriously tested.”

Scott Kennedy, the council’s head of emergency planning, told members that the chance of such a catastrophic event were low.

He said: “While the likelihood of such a risk is low, the impact would be major.

“East Lothian Council’s planned responses will be further refined following receipt of anticipated national guidance, as both UK and Scottish Government are working on their own frameworks, with Scottish Government developing a Power Resilience Multi-Agency Response Framework for Scotland.”


Councillors were told that back-up generators and airwave radio terminals were already in place and local plans were being drawn up for the county.

Councillor Lachlan Bruce asked about the costs involved, revealing that the council had bought units which allowed it to link to Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by American aerospace company SpaceX.

He was told that it was not expensive and the council had now bought two units for under £5,000 – and already used one, which was deployed to Knox Academy in Haddington to help with IT issues.

A council spokesperson said: “The council’s IT were able to 'borrow' the system to provide network connectivity to Knox Academy a couple of weeks ago when the underground fibre optic cable to the school was damaged.

“This will continue to be used until the cable is replaced in the New Year.

“Given how easy it was to install and how inexpensive it is to run, the council’s IT department have since purchased a further system to use as a contingency if we lose connection to a site for a period of time similar as to what has happened at Knox.”