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Highland Council response to extreme weather

14th December 2017

The Highland Council is reassuring people in the region that since Storm Caroline and the arrival of winter weather to the region, the Council's Community Services has been deploying all of its available resources to tackle the condition of Highland Council pavements and roads.

The Council's gritting fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services. They have been working flat out across the region within the Council's agreed policies and resources available.

We have been experiencing temperatures of -10 degrees centigrade in places in the past week. It is important however to note that salt is 50% less effective when the temperature drops below -4 degrees and is virtually ineffective below -8 degrees.

Highland Council’s gritting policy covers 6,744km of roads covering the largest geographic area of any local authority in the UK. The Winter Maintenance budget is £4.9m. It is not possible to grit all roads and pavements at all times across the region and therefore a winter maintenance policy approved by the Council in 2014 directs how resources are used. Area Winter Maintenance Plans are approved Area Committees at the start of each season.

Roads are gritted according to their classification of ‘Primary’, ‘Secondary’ or ‘Other’ routes. Primary routes are gritted Mondays to Saturdays 6am to 9pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 7am to 9pm. Secondary routes are gritted following the completion of Primary routes and are gritted Mondays to Saturdays from 6am to 6pm within available resources. Other routes are treated as resources permit. In extreme conditions all efforts are made to keep Primary routes clear.

Cllr Allan Henderson Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee said: "The extreme weather is also affecting other local authorities across the country and Highland is not alone in the difficulties we are experiencing in keeping our roads and pavements clear of snow and ice.

"Since Storm Caroline, road surface temperatures have been extremely low and although grit and salt is spread on priority routes, wash-off and re-freezing has been causing widespread formation of ice across the region. These are extreme, prolonged conditions that we are experiencing and the Council’s priorities have been focussed on keeping Primary routes clear.

"All our available gritters are being deployed but they have to treat and re-treat Primary gritting routes in the first instance with the result that not all Secondary and Other routes are being treated. Motorists and pedestrians are asked to take extra care and to drive according to local conditions."

The Council currently has 40,000 tonnes salt in stock across the region and has 14,000 additional tonnes due for delivery before the New Year. Since the start of the winter gritting service on 14 October, the Council has used 9,000 tonnes of salt which is 20% more than last year at this time.

The Highland Council’s winter maintenance policy and area gritting maps, along with an interactive map on how to find and apply for grit bins in your area are on the council’s website at

Trunk Roads in Highland are gritted by Bear NW (Scotland) on behalf of Transport Scotland. For information on Trunk Roads visit


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