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2023/24 Winter Maintenance Plan Approved For Caithness

21st August 2023

The priorities by which The Highland Council will treat roads in Caithness this winter have been approved.

At the Caithness Committee meeting today (Monday 21 August 2023) members approved a winter maintenance plan for the area which includes priority road lists and maps showing the priority gritting routes.

Across Caithness there are 135kms of Primary routes, 222km of Secondary routes and 49km of Other routes and these will be treated using 10 front-line gritters. Six footpath tractors will also be available.

Primary routes are treated first, followed by Secondary routes and crews will only move on to treat Other roads when the Primary and Secondary routes are all completed.

As last year, the gritting services on a Saturday and Sunday will be equalised and both Primary and Secondary routes, as well as difficult Other routes will be treated routinely from 6am onwards over weekends as well as weekdays when conditions dictate.

A Duty Officer rota will be in place to ensure that there is always a suitably qualified and experienced member of staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take decisions on the deployment of appropriate resources to deal with the prevailing weather conditions.

The average annual usage of salt for the Caithness area is around 6,000 tonnes and the Council is well prepared with sufficient salt in all its depots.

Each year local areas put in place their own Winter Maintenance Plan to cover the operational details to deliver a service locally within existing budget and resources.

Caithness Committee Chair, Cllr Ron Gunn said: "To prepare for winter in Caithness requires a great amount of planning to ensure that the gritting policy, winter maintenance teams and the equipment and supplies required are in place and ready to be implemented 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 your area. It isn't possible to treat every road and path; however, the dedicated Caithness team work extremely hard to maintain a challenging geographical area."

He added: "As in previous years we are keen to encourage communities to "self-help" as much as possible and to be aware of people within their local community who may need assistance from neighbours in clearing snow and ice or possibly shopping or accessing health and social services during extreme weather conditions."

Community self-help is being encouraged under the Councils ‘'Winter Resilience'' scheme whereby communities can submit an application via their community council to carry out footway gritting operations within an agreed area. The Council will provide the community with salt/grit, bins, scrapers, and reflective waistcoats. 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, Caithness Area Roads Winter Maintenance Plan 2023/24, presents the current position regarding the delivery of the Highland Council winter service for 2023/24. It takes consideration of the current service level required by the Winter policy. See

The Policy information are provided on the "Winter Road Maintenance" pages on the Council's web site at


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