Persistent power cuts in part of South Yorkshire blamed on cannabis farms

Persistent power cuts in the Eastwood area of Rotherham are being blamed on cannabis farms, as residents and businesses have suffered 11 power cuts in the last three weeks.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 12:17 pm

Single mum, Karen Gunn, of Hatherley Road in Eastwood, who has asthma and COPD- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, says she has to have her kettle on a near-constant boil, because she doesn’t know when the next powercut will be.

Karen says the situation is a “nightmare”, adding that she has to keep her mobile phone charged at all times, and “nothing has been done” by Northern Powergrid – despite the same issue happening last winter.

“The problem has started again, except this time it is much worse,” said Karen.

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Residents around Hatherley Road in Eastwood have suffered 13 powercuts in the last month, which have been blamed on cannabis farms in the area.

“The first powercut we had this year was on October 24 at 9am, the next on November 2 at 5.55am.

“Since the second of November, we’ve had 13 powercuts, with the fourth and seventh of November having two powercuts on the same day.”

Karen, who is on crutches, says the powercuts leave the house cold, as she struggles to turn the boiler back on because of her broken foot.

“I’ve broken my foot and on crutches. This is extremely difficult when I wake up during the night, needing the loo and house is in complete darkness.

“I spend most of my day boiling the kettle, filling up flasks of coffee, boiling the kettle again, keeping my mobile phone fully charged, buying battery operated tealights, candles, and torches, all at my expense.

Karen has complained a number of times to Northern Powergrid which supplies her home.

According to a letter from Norther Powergrid, sent to residents and seen by the local democracy reporting service, the cuts are down to “criminal activity” in the area, where people are making “illegal connections” to the electricity network, “to facilitate cannabis farms”.

A spokesperson from South Yorkshire Police said: “We are working with Northern PowerGrid to investigate power cuts in Rotherham and whether these are linked to illegal activity.

“Since September 2021, we have dismantled 30 illegal cannabis farms across Rotherham and we continue to work closely with the local community and partners to identify further premises in the area which may be used for such purposes.

“We have an action plan in place going in to 2022 and will ensure that those who are responsible for this activity are found and dealt with.

“We are however mindful that enforcement alone will not stop this issue, and so are working with our partners in RMBC and housing to look at the wider factors.

“This work involves preventing these farms being set up in the first place, and ensuring landlords are conducting proper due diligence on their tenants.

“If you want to report suspicious activity in your area, please contact 101 or your local policing team.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that Northern Powergrid, is aware of the power cuts , following “unusual overloading activity” on its power network.

“We’re working closely with South Yorkshire Police after power cuts in the local area were caused by suspicious overload activities,” said the spokesperson.

“We’re monitoring our network and working hard to reduce the number of customers affected by the interruptions and to protect our equipment from damage. We are responding to any power cuts as quickly as possible.

“Tampering with electricity is extremely dangerous and can cause electrocution or fire. Interfering with our power network – or the internal wiring of a property – risks electric shocks and burns, which could be life-changing or, at worst fatal. It is incredibly irresponsible criminal behaviour, which can start fires that endanger the perpetrators and other people in the building and the general public.

“We would urge anyone who has any information or concerns about individuals or criminal groups illegally extracting electricity or interfering with the power network to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or use the Stay Energy Safe number 0800 023 27770 and website stayenergysafe.co.uk/report-energy-crime to report it.

“We work in partnership with the police and local communities to make safe any damage to our network as quickly as possible and support the prosecution of those involved.”