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Winter gritting programme rolled out from this week by Highland Council

By Tom Ramage

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The Highland Council’s winter gritting programme starts this week on Thursday and will continue until April 14, 2022.

The council will monitor road and weather conditions across its road network, says leader Margaret Davidson.

"We will respond with a winter fleet of 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors, one snowblower and over 200 staff. We spread around 50,000 tonnes of salt on Highland roads and pavements in a typical winter as well as topping up over 1750 grit bins."

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson says the team are ready and well stocked up
Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson says the team are ready and well stocked up

The council has adequate salt stocks for the start of the main winter season and has no concerns about the future provision of salt deliveries, said Councillor Davidson.

“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.”

As in previous years, Highland Council is offering assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths.

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

Full guidance and an application form can be found on the council’s website. For further information visit www.highland.gov.uk/gritting

The winter roads maintenance budget is around £5 million annually which is used to look after the 6766km of roads for which the council has responsibility.

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

Chair of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee 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.

Councillor Trish Robertson: no changes in winter roads policy
Councillor Trish Robertson: no changes in winter roads policy

Details of the Council’s gritting policy and maps are on the council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.

Covid-19 continues to present the council with significant challenges, said Councillor Robertson.

"Motorists and members of the public should recognise that despite the council taking all necessary precautions, 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 drivers 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.

Check out the maps here

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