URGENT investment is needed in the region’s energy infrastructure after storms caused widespread power cuts for the third time in three months, MPs have said.

Thousands of people were once again left without electricity after gale force winds brought down power lines across the North East on Wednesday night.

Read more: Horror as 13 dogs are killed in tragic accident after tree brings down powerline

This evening, Northern Powergrid said it had restored supply to the final 200 people still suffering from a power outage.

Last November, it took 11 days to reconnect tens of thousands of homes to the grid after Storm Arwen struck.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones has now repeated his calls for urgent action and a public inquiry.

He said: “It is clear that the power infrastructure in the North East is in urgent need of investment.

The Northern Echo:

“If the Government was serious about ‘levelling up’ they would be funding this, rather than one-off vanity projects.

“Northern Powergrid also need a total overhaul of their communications and contingency planning processes, which have repeatedly been shown to be inadequate.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris also said a public inquiry was needed.

He said: “The Government talk about levelling up but won’t undertake an inquiry to understand why our basic infrastructure is not fit for purpose.

“We need to future proof our economy and infrastructure against climate change if we are to successfully weather storms of increased ferocity.

“It took Ministers six days to make a statement following Arwen.

“However, when a red weather warning is issued for the South and Storm Eunice, the Army is put on standby, and the Government call a COBRA meeting.

“The Government denied any North/South divide following Arwen, but today's actions prove this is a lie.

“Ministers will have to explain how they will level up the country when they act and place the needs of the South above those of the North."

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said she will be speaking to people in the worst affected areas.

She said: “Whilst Durham County Council and local communities do excellent work in supporting vulnerable people when there are power outages, clearly more long term work needs to be done to build the overall resilience of the power network to prevent further outages.

The Northern Echo:

“I am in the process of arranging a community forum with Northern Powergrid and members from some of the worst affected communities to press this point, as well as to discuss how the available support can be improved.”

North West Durham MP Richard Holden said there will always be storms that will affect power supplies.

He said: “The key thing is to ensure that impact is minimised. The interim report from OFGEM is out now and Northern Powergrid need to read it in full and learn the lessons of the response to Storm Arwen so that we can avoid the levels of disruption for the future.”

Northern Powergrid said 20,000 were affected after Storm Dudley struck yesterday.

The Northern Echo:

Andy Bilclough, the company’s director of field operations, said: “Our first priority is to finish the job of reconnecting the supplies to the final customers who are still without power this evening.

“While that is going on, we are also preparing our teams and ensuring resources are in place to respond to Storm Eunice, which we are expecting to arrive in our region during tomorrow morning.”

Read more: Bowburn services near Junction 61 on A1(M) shut due to power failure

Met Office forecasts show a combination of high winds and snow hitting the region during Friday, and Northern Powergrid has said wind speeds combined with snow do have the potential to cause further damage to the network.

A yellow weather warning is in place from 3am to 6pm on Friday, which could result in damage to homes and buildings and fallen trees.

The storm could cause further power cuts as well as disruption to roads and transport services, with people urged to take extra care throughout the day.

Alan Patrickson, Durham County Council’s corporate director for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “Our teams remain on standby to ensure we can respond to any issues that may be caused by Storm Eunice, with our highways teams ready to deal with any ice and snow.

“We also continue to work with emergency services and other key organisations to plan for the impact of any bad weather and this will be ongoing throughout the weekend.

“With warnings in place across most of the UK tomorrow, we would advise residents to prepare for the possibility of further power cuts across the county and to take extra care if they do need to travel, particularly if they use high-sided vehicles.”

Anyone who is aware of an older or vulnerable person who needs help can contact the council’s customer services team on 03000 26 0000.

This number is available 24 hours, with out of hours emergency support available through the council’s Care Connect team.

This number can also be used to report fallen trees on footpaths and highways and any damage to buildings.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054