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Winter plan for Caithness roads confirmed

24th November 2017

Photograph of Winter plan for Caithness roads confirmed

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

At the Caithness Committee meeting (Tuesday 21 November 2017) 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 (55%) and 49km of other routes. The average annual usage of salt for the Caithness area is around 6,000 tonnes.

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.

Over the winter in Caithness the council will operate a rota to ensure that there is always a qualified and experienced member of local staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take decisions on the deployment of appropriate resources to deal with the weather conditions

The council uses a professional forecast provider who provides daily and five day weather forecasts. This data is used to plan treatment for the roads; In addition real time data is obtained by staff from 30 icealert sites. These sensors provide information on the road surface temperature, surface conditions and the presence of salt.

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

Chair of the Area Committee, Councillor Donnie Mackay said: "We are lucky to have a hard working and dedicated team of local staff who go out in the worst of wintry conditions to provide the best service they can. There will be ten front-line gritters and four footpath tractors. The plan of routes and priorities we have agreed will be closely monitored over the coming months to make sure we can respond to extreme conditions and use all available resources to the best effect."

Details of the Caithness Area priority routes and winter services information can be viewed by visiting the council's website at:

Caithness councillors 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 also 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.

Guidance is also published on the Council web site and by the Scottish Government on their “Ready Scotland” web site (external link) urging people to be prepared for emergencies and extreme weather.


A council gritter at Dunbeath


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