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Highland Council ready for winter with gritting programme launched today

By Caroline McMorran

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Highland Council's winter gritting programme is being launched today and will continue until April 14.

The authority's fleet of 105 gritters stands in readiness for adverse winter weather conditions along with 42 footpath tractors, one snowblower and more than 200 staff.

A gritter spreads salt on a Highland road.
A gritter spreads salt on a Highland road.

On average around 50,000 tonnes of salt are spread on Highland roads and pavements over the winter months and 1750 grit bins are kept topped up.

Reassurances have been given that there are adequate salt stocks for the start of the main winter season and there are no concerns about the future provision of salt deliveries.

Highland Council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson said: “Our salt stockpiles are in place to ensure we have enough to service as much of the region as possible.

"If people think there is a need for a new grit bin in their area, please don’t wait until it snows or gets icy – please apply now.”

Assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths.

The council will provide salt in either bins or heaps, snow shovels and pushers, gloves and hi-vis vests and health and safety advice to volunteers.

The winter roads maintenance budget is around £5 million annually which is used to look after 6,766km of roads across the region.

Trunk roads such as the main A9, A96, A82, and A87 among others are maintained by Bear Scotland.

Chairwoman of the economy and infrastructure committee Councillor Trish Robertson said: “There have been no changes to this year’s Highland-wide winter policy so service levels throughout the local areas will remain, essentially, unchanged from last year.

"Any variations to service delivery are determined by councillors at area committees to suit local areas.”

The gritting service begins at 6am each day as and when required. There will be a Monday to Friday service in which all roads are treated and a weekend service which includes treatment of all the primary routes, strategic secondary routes and difficult ‘other’ routes.

The service will be provided within the resources available and as weather conditions permit.

A spokesman said that Covid-19 continued to present the council with significant challenges.

He said: "Motorists and members of the public should recognise that there is still a risk that should an outbreak occur within one of the council’s depots, the level of service provided may be affected due to the requirement of staff to self-isolate.

"Should this occur, resources will be supplemented, where possible, with drivers who have the correct licence requirements from within the council.

"Subsequently this could have a knock-on effect in the delivery of other services such as waste and amenities.

"If such an event were to reduce the resources available to treat the road network, this would result in those resources being deployed to treat routes in priority order according to the council’s winter maintenance policy.

"This possible course of action may lead to the treatment of some routes being delayed until adequate resources become available."

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