Changes to weekend gritting on Highland Roads – are you ready for winter?

photo of plough in actionThe Highland Council is ready for winter and prepared to grit council roads as the council’s winter maintenance programme started on 14 October 2018. 

Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.

Changes to this year’s winter maintenance policy include an equalisation of the gritting service at weekends. The service will now commence at 6am on both Saturday and Sunday (previously 7am on a Sunday), with the same length of network treated on both days. This will include treatment of all the Primary routes, strategic Secondary routes and difficult ‘Other’ routes as resources permit.

The council can confirm it has adequate salt stocks for the region of 45,000 tonnes for the start of the main winter season and that there are no concerns about future provision of deliveries from the council’s supplier.

The total salt usage for last winter 2017/18 was 81,000 tonnes, which was around 32% (£2.3m) of the overall cost of the service last year.

The winter fleet mobilisation programme is complete and includes vehicle servicing and calibration of salt spreading equipment.  The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.

Following extreme freezing conditions on pavements last winter – this season, assurance has given by the Director of Community Services that a formal escalation procedure will be adopted when severe conditions are forecast or experienced with immediate mobilisation of all available manual staff across Community Services to assist.

This year (2018/19) the Council has made provision for the replacement of 18 vehicles in its heavy fleet; ten of which have arrived with the remainder to be delivered bu Christmas.  On completion of this latest order the Council will have invested in excess of £9 million in its heavy winter fleet over the last 5 years.

Staff involved in winter services provision at area level are trained in using the Council’s weather forecasting service. The forecasts are used each year to assist local decision-making on daily and longer term winter services actions.

Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said:

“We have the supplies and resources in place to provide a winter service this year in the Highlands according to the Council’s policy.  Council roads and pavements are gritted as specified within the council’s agreed winter maintenance policy with the added assurance of mobilisation of extra staff this year. Details of the council’s highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the council’s website at

“The Council will continue to do what it can within its resources and policy however, I would encourage communities to come forward and apply for winter resilience assistance from the Council that will provide them with salt in grit bins or heaps and other equipment to take action in their local areas that are important to them.”

Within its winter roads maintenance budget of £5 million for 2018/19, the Council is ready to salt - according to its policy – the 6,744km of roads for which the Council has responsibility.

Area Winter Maintenance Plans are set by Area Committees within Council strategy and budget allocated by the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee.  The Ross and Cromarty, and Caithness Winter Maintenance Plans for 2018/19 will be set at the next Area Committee meetings on 1st and 20th November respectively.

Until those dates, the existing 2017/18 Winter Maintenance Plans for each area will be in place.

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29 Oct 2018