Call for more road funding in Highlands as winter weather bites

Numerous roads closed across the Highlands due to on-going weather conditions.

Highland Council is preparing to make a special case for extra capital funding to repair roads affect by winter weater as drifting snow continued to close routes in parts of the north yesterday,

Thoughts were turning to the clear-up operation and pot-hole repairs which will be necessary after months of severe weather.

Figures issued by the council showed that, in total, 57 Met Office warnings were issued between October last year and this week for the authority area. Warnings were in place for 47 days in the last three-month winter period.

Yesterday, the A836 Lairg to Tongue road was closed by up to 3-4 feet of drifting snow on parts of the route. Other Caithness routes had up to 4ins of lying snow which were cleared.

In south Sutherland the B9176 Struie Hill Road snow gates remained closed. The A836 Dalchork Junction-Tongue road were closed until the plough’s managed to clear snow drifts.

In Ross and Cromarty, the Bealach road which was closed the previous night due to drifting snow, was due to reopen.

Problems with water, heating or power closed St Clement’s School in Dingwall and Strathgarve Primary in Garve.

In Shetland, Whalsay School was closed due to poor weather conditions.

Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of Highland Council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: “We have had a long hard winter which has taken its toll on our road infrastructure. Yesterday was the eighth consecutive day of a Met Office Warning and our teams have been hard at work gritting, clearing snow and keeping our roads open.

“After dealing with the winter work, our focus will be turning to fixing the worst of the potholes. Freeze-thaw-freeze conditions throughout the winter have done considerable damage. This is on top of a 10% decrease in road condition over the last five years.

“Whilst we have identified funds in our capital programme for roads, this will hardly scratch the surface of the hundreds of millions needed to bring our roads up to a better condition.

“We will be making a case to the Scottish Government to provide additional capital funding so that we can really make a difference.”

Council leader Margaret Davidson added: “We will be undertaking a major lobbying campaign to bring in additional Scottish Government capital funding and calling on our regional politicians to actively support this case, as well as colleagues across the chamber, to make sure Highland gets the investment it needs and deserves.”

A yellow weather warning covering parts of Highland was in place for snow and ice from 9pm last night until 11am today.