By Severin Carrell and Jim Waterson for The Guardian
The BBC has prepared secret scripts that could be read on air if energy shortages cause blackouts or the loss of gas supplies this winter.
The scripts, seen by the Guardian, set out how the corporation would reassure the public in the event that a “major loss of power” causes mobile phone networks, internet access, banking systems or traffic lights to fail across England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland would be unaffected because its electricity grid is shared with the Republic of Ireland.
The public would be advised to use car radios or battery-powered receivers to listen to emergency broadcasts on FM and long-wave frequencies usually reserved for Radio 2 and Radio 4.
One draft BBC script warns that a blackout could last for up to two days, with hospitals and police placed under “extreme pressure”.
Another says: “The government has said it’s hoped power will be restored in the next 36 to 48 hours. Different parts of Britain will start to receive intermittent supplies before then.”
It is understood they were written by BBC journalists as part of routine emergency planning to deal with hypothetical scenarios. They include local details for the different regions and nations of Britain.
In a national emergency, the BBC has a formal role in helping to spread information across the country, as part of the government’s civil contingencies planning. The broadcaster’s governance framework states: “If it appears to any UK government minister that an emergency has arisen, that minister may request that the BBC broadcast or otherwise distribute any announcement or other programme.”
The government works with the BBC as part of its emergency planning process, although it is unclear whether it had any input on these scripts. A spokesperson said: “The government is confident that this is not a scenario we will face this winter.” For more, click here.