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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Members Approve 2023/24 Winter Maintenance Plan for Easter Ross  

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The Winter Maintenance Plan for Easter Ross this coming winter 2023/24 has been approved by Members of the Area Committee (7 August 2023). 

Easter Ross Area Committee Chair, Cllr Derek Louden said:

“As we saw last winter, we can experience some very challenging weather here in Easter Ross. 

“That’s why it’s so important that we put plans in place early to ensure the gritting policy, winter maintenance team and the equipment and supplies required are in place and ready to be used when the winter weather arrives. 

“The Highland Council has an approved list of priority routes for treatment and would encourage the public to familiarise themselves with the gritting maps for the area specific to them.” 

He added:

“It isn’t possible to treat every road and path; however, the dedicated team in Easter Ross work extremely hard to best meet the needs of the area. 

“We continue to encourage ‘Community self-help’, under the Council’s ‘Winter Resilience’ scheme, where communities can submit applications via their community council to carry out footway gritting operations.” 

Applications for the Winter Resilience scheme can be made on the website

The Council will continue to provide the community with salt/grit, bins, scrapers and reflective waistcoats.

It is important to note that this does not replace the service provided by the Council but allows the community to provide an enhanced level of service. 

The report, available here, (Item 6) presents the current position regarding the delivery of the Highland Council winter service for 2023/24. 

Easter Ross Members today (7 August 2023) approved the plan, which includes priority routes and maps.

The plan explains that primary routes are treated first, followed by secondary routes and then all ‘other’ routes as resources permit. 

Councillors noted the priorities, timings and resources available for gritting the Easter Ross area network of Primary 87km (22%); Secondary 71km (18%) and Other 230km (60%). 

The Council’s Winter Service Policy is in place to ensure a consistent level of service between areas and to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

However, the operation of that Policy does not, and cannot, ensure that every road and footway will be free of ice or snow at all times. 

Across Ross and Cromarty there are 19 front-line gritters available and 11 footpath tractors.

There are a limited number of spare gritters available across Highland.

There are four gritters and five footpath tractors serving Easter Ross.

Some footpath tractors treat several villages, which involves travel time between routes, and this will impact on the length they can treat in a day. 

The average annual usage of salt for Easter Ross is approximately 3,500 tonnes.

Although the occurrence of snow lying on the roads has reduced, ice and frost remain prevalent.

There is sufficient salt in stock or on order spread across depot locations. 

While the resources set out above will deal with the majority of winter events, there may be occasions, for example periods of heavy prolonged snowfall, when additional resources are required.

To help deal with these situations, local contractors are available who can supply equipment and operators to assist in clearing deep snow at short notice. 

The Council publishes “Winter Services” leaflets for each operational area providing the public with information on snow clearing and gritting of Council roads along with maps showing the priority attributed to individual roads. 

The leaflets and Policy information are provided on the “Winter Road Maintenance” pages on the Council’s web site at: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20005/roads_and_pavements/107/winter_road_maint enance/2  

Primary (Highest) – Treated from 6am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, generally covering all the A class roads and some B class and including main commuter routes in the larger urban areas. 

Secondary - Treated mostly after the primary network has been completed between 6am and 6pm Monday to Saturday and covering roads which in general connect smaller communities to the primary network.

On bus routes, gritting will not necessarily be completed before buses start their journeys. 

Other - These are minor rural and local access and residential roads.

We will treat these roads as resources become available 

Salting will not prevent roads from icing up in extreme conditions.

This is particularly relevant on low traffic roads where there are insufficient vehicle movements to aid the interaction between the salt and the ice crystals. 

  • Drivers should take account of prevailing weather and road conditions 
  • Winter weather conditions within the Highlands can be very localised 
  • Black ice can be a particular danger. You cannot see it and it can still be there even after treatment 

Dawn frosts can also catch drivers unaware.

At first light a clear sky will allow heat to radiate quickly from the road surface causing icy patches to form on wet or damp roads. 

Prepare your vehicle 

  • Make sure your vehicle is fit for the journey 
  • Top up the windscreen-washer 
  • Check that all your lights are working – remember ‘it’s not to see, but to be seen’ 
  • Check your tyre pressures and tread depths 
  • Consider the benefits of fitting winter tyres, particularly if you are driving in rural areas 
  • Prepare for frost by keeping a de-icer spray and scraper in the car. Prepare yourself 

Prepare yourself 

  • Take a blanket or extra warm clothing 
  • Take a flask with a hot drink and some food 
  • Take a torch, boots and a shovel 
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