Highland councillor says 'supplies and resources in place' for winter gritting service as communities invited to apply for grit bins if needed
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"WINTER is coming and we are ready", Highland Council has said as it prepares to launch its seasonal gritting programme.
Its annual winter maintenance service begins this month and it has set aside a budget of £5 million to help it salt its 6800km of public routes.
And it already has roughly 45,000 tonnes of salt in storage ready for the start of the season, only 3000 tonnes less than was used over the whole of last winter – although the council recognised that 2019 was a milder winter than normal.
Chairwoman of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: “We have the supplies and resources in place to provide a winter service this year in the Highlands according to the council’s agreed winter maintenance policy.
"Council roads and pavements are gritted as specified within the council’s policy with the added assurance of mobilisation of extra staff this year. Details of the council’s highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting ."
Ahead of the launch of the service, it has urged communities who need them to apply for its "winter resilience grit bins".
Cllr Robertson added: "As in previous years, Highland Council will offer assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths.
"While the council does operate a fleet of footpath tractors, the resources available are simply insufficient to clear every path in the region. We recognise that communities may be able to assist with treating a more extensive path network or target the treatment of highly trafficked areas earlier than the council."
The council will assist with the provision of salt in either bins or heaps, snow shovels and pushers, gloves and hi-vis vests, health and safety advice to volunteers and public liability insurance. It is a condition of the scheme that volunteers must register their intention to assist via their local community council – through which the scheme is administered.
Full guidance and an application form can be found on the council’s website .
The council added that there have been no changes to this year’s winter policy so service levels throughout the local areas will remain, essentially, unchanged from last year. The service will commence 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.
The council’s winter fleet for 2020/21 includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors, two snowblowers and more than 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
This year the council has made plans to replace 10 of its main gritters, eight of which have already arrived, with the remainder expected to arrive later this month.
For further information about the council's gritting programme, and the guidelines behind its primary and secondary priority routes, visit www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.