Newly appointed Skye and Raasay Area Committee Chair, Cllr John Finlayson said:
“To prepare for winter, Members approved plans to ensure the gritting policy, winter maintenance team and the equipment and supplies required are in place and ready to be implemented when the winter weather arrives across Skye and Raasay.
“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.”
Cllr John Finlayson added:
“It isn’t possible to treat every road and path throughout Skye and Raasay; however, the Council maintenance team are dedicated and work hard in extreme weather conditions to meet the area’s needs and help keep us on the move throughout challenging winter conditions.”
The Highland Council continues 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.
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, Skye and Raasay Winter Maintenance Plan, presents the current position regarding the delivery of the Highland Council winter service for 2022/23.
Skye and Raasay Area Committee Members today (15 August 2022) 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.
Members noted the priorities, timings and resources available for gritting the Skye and Raasay area network of Primary 170 km (27%); Secondary 102 km (16%) and Other 349km (57%).
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.
Due to the introduction of additional driver’s hours regulations, the Council is currently considering the impact on staff levels required to maintain services.
If amendments are required to accommodate these, a future report will be taken to committee.
Across the Isle of Skye and Raasay there are 4 dedicated gritters supplemented with 3 lorries with gritter bodies available and 2 footpath tractors.
Each vehicle treats (excluding Raasay), on average, 50km of primary and secondary routes followed by 50km of other routes.
Some footway tractors treat several villages, which involve travel time between routes, and this will impact on the length they can treat in a day.
There are a limited number of spare gritters available across Highland.
The average annual usage of salt for Skye and Raasay is approximately 4,000 tonnes.
Although the occurrence of snow lying on the roads has reduced, ice and frost remain frequent in low temperature, especially on the higher routes.
There is sufficient salt in stock or on order spread across the depot locations.
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.
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.
They will be treated 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
Take a blanket or extra warm clothing
Take a flask with a hot drink and some food
Take a torch, boots and a shovel