Aberdeenshire Council is once again gearing up for winter, with over 38,000 tonnes of salt, 1,330 grit bins, 147 gritters and ploughs and over 300 people at the ready to tackle snow and ice.
In common with many public agencies, the council has been thoroughly preparing, ensuring salt and grit are fully-stocked and inspecting vehicles.
The council’s roads and landscape service maintains over 3,300 miles of roads and 930 miles of footpaths, with around 1,030 miles of roads identified as a priority network for winter treatment.
To deliver the winter services the council has 98 gritters and ploughs/snow blowers available to treat carriageways, with a further 49 footway gritter and ploughs.
A team of 229 people are readily available for routine winter work, and this can be expanded to 319 with staff from other parts of the council if conditions become severe.
Further boosting these resources and supporting council staff are up to 120 tractors operated by farmers, with blades supplied by the council, and 35 ploughs operated by contractors.
These farmers and contractors play an important role in the overall winter response plan, and provide the initial snow clearing response across our more rural network.
Aberdeenshire is a geographically diverse area, covering landscapes from mountain to sea. Weather conditions can vary dramatically across the area, so personnel and equipment are dispersed so appropriate treatments can be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Councillors recently endorsed numerous measures aimed at improving the winter roads service.
The tracking of gritters and snow ploughs and improvements to the level of information available to the public were among the measures identified in a review of the service last year.
These actions are among the second phase of improvements due to be implemented by the service this winter season, the first wave of which was introduced last season.
Councillors were told that a private radio network has now been introduced across the whole of Aberdeenshire to enable reliable communications with gritter and plough operatives and drivers.
It also provides a comprehensive record of a vehicle’s location at any point in its journey, enabling the service to easily answer queries, complaints or claims about winter road treatment. It is expected that the tracking facility will be enabled later this year.
Work has also moved forward to improve the way information is made available to the public, as well as other services within the council, with the development of new initiatives aimed at providing live information to smart phones and tablet devices.
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “It is great to see the second wave of improvements identified in last year’s review coming through and shows how committed Aberdeenshire Council is to providing residents, schools and businesses with the best winter roads service possible.
“Members of the public also have a vital role to play, and can help us maintain the best possible roads network by reporting faults and assist community resilience by doing what they can to be prepared for winter. Anyone who is interested should look at the Ready Aberdeenshire website for more information.”
Vice-chair of the committee, Councillor Alan S. Buchan, added: “The council typically devotes over 70,000 working hours and millions of pounds providing a winter roads service and is constantly looking at ways to make sure Aberdeenshire is kept moving, safely and efficiently, throughout the winter months.”
Information about preparing for severe weather is available at and on the websites of public agencies, including Aberdeenshire Council’s.
Further information is also available on the Ready Aberdeenshire site or on the Scottish Government’s Ready Winter website.