Farmers in Perthshire have agreed to help clear snow and ice this winter in a bid to help keep the region’s roads safe.
Perth and Kinross councillors are set to agree to a raft of changes which may also see those sentenced to community payback drafted in.
It will mean more salt and more gritters while the council will also be able to call on a network of 70 farmers with ploughs.
It follows one of the busiest winters for council gritters in the past decade last year.
Elected members will vote on the changes in the environment committee meeting on August 18.
Greenspace and housing staff, as well as people on court-enforced Community Payback Orders with the council, may be called upon to help with snowy conditions.
Winter season 2020/21 was an “unusual” season in Perth and Kinross, a council spokesman said, with very few weather-related issues during the mild and wet conditions prior to Christmas.
Frequent snow and freezing temperatures
However, during the seven-week period from Boxing Day to late February, constant retreatment was required due to frequent snowfall and freezing temperatures.
More gritting was carried out last winter than any of the previous seven years and almost all of the activity was compressed into the seven weeks after New Year.
There was 37 days of snowploughing required — the second-highest recorded data in the past seven winters.
A total of 24,158 tonnes of salt was spread, an increase of 6,000 tonnes compared to the previous winter.
This winter’s maintenance period will run from October 18 2021 to April 3 2022, with a phased approach to provide full cover.
A council spokesman said: “Engagement with, and feedback from, our communities has highlighted a desire to also be able to help themselves.
“We hope that we can continue to build on this support with community councils and other interested community groups to work with us in helping to treat sections of the footways that we cannot always get to.”
‘Conditions can change very quickly’
The council is offering additional push-along gritters for community use this winter, and additional bulk bags of salt will be available for grit bins for public use.
However, the spokesman said grit bins are provided for keeping public roads open and asked people not to use salt on private property.
The council is also keen to speak to other farmers who are interested in helping the council with roads this winter.
Councillor Angus Forbes, convener of the environment committee, said: “Winter is an unpredictable season where conditions can change very quickly, each year we continue to develop innovative approached to maintain our road networks and make every effort to make all possible preparations.
“With thanks to our very dedicated staff members as well as volunteers from our communities, we are able to maintain a strong track record for our winter maintenance service across Perth and Kinross.
“They go above and beyond each year to keep our roads and footpaths as safe as possible for everyone. We are always grateful for volunteers such as our local farmers who undertake snow clearing on public roads.
“If there are any members of our communities who would like to assist with the gritting of local footpaths, we would encourage them to please get in touch.”
Further information is available from Perth and Kinross Council’s customer service centre on 01738 475 000, or make a general inquiry online via the online service portal MyPKC.