SCOTTISH Ministers have met to discuss potential efforts to support communities and restore power in Shetland.

It comes after reports that energy firm SSEN Distribution said their local teams described conditions on the islands as the worst they had seen in 20 years.

The company also said it is likely to be the end of the week before power is restored to all SSEN customers.

The Scottish Government Resilience Room met on Tuesday to discuss the impacts of power outages in Shetland, and how, with multi-agency partners, the Government can restore power.

It is expected more SSEN engineers will arrive early Wednesday morning in Shetland in their bid to restore power to almost 4000 homes and ministers have pledged to “do what we can to get as many staff and as much equipment to Shetland as needed, as early as possible”.

The power cuts, caused by “line icing” – snow and ice sticking to overhead power lines causing them to snap – are currently affecting homes in Voe, Whalsay, Brae, Tumblin, Yell, and Unst.

Sumburgh airport, south of Lerwick, has now reopened, and the Government is working with SSEN and transport operators to maximise capacity.

All of Shetland’s schools, except for Fair Isle, will remain closed on Wednesday for the safety of pupils and staff, with the weather forecasted to worsen Tuesday night.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown, the lead minister for resilience, said: “The challenging circumstances facing parts of Shetland have been declared a major incident and, while SSEN is making every effort to restore supplies, it is clear that many properties will face days without power.

“This afternoon I chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) with our multi-agency partners to make every effort to restore power and support households.

“Our utmost priority must be to ensure that people, especially the most vulnerable, are safe and warm. SSEN have contacted all priority customers and Shetland Islands Council has identified vulnerable people who may need extra support. It is also considering how buildings such as community centres could be used to provide respite centres if needed.

“I would urge people to heed the Police Scotland advice to stay at home, find ways to stay warm, check in on neighbours, friends and family, and listen to the local radio or follow social media for updates.”