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‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ – Crews nearing end of phenomenal effort to clear north-east roads of snow

Starrs Construction work to clear the A98 Banff road near Buckie.
Starrs Construction work to clear the A98 Banff road near Buckie.

Crews clearing Moray roads from drifts up to 14ft deep in some rural spots say they are beginning to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Contractors have been working up to 20-hour shifts for the last week after the north-east was battered with immense amounts of snow.

Posted by Starrs Contracting Ltd. on Sunday, 14 February 2021

The deluge combined with strong wind at the weekend closed several roads with cars almost completely submerged by huge drifts.

Today crews continued efforts clearing the A98 Fochabers to Banff road in the Buckie and Portgordon area with the route expected to reopen this evening.

Crews battle drifts up to 14ft on rural roads

Cullen-based Starrs Contracting has been recruited by Moray Council to help with the operation to clear the vital route due to its access to heavy machinery more commonly used in the construction industry.

Director Stuart Starrs said: “We’re averaging about 4ft drifts on the coast but up the country in places life Dufftown and Glenrinnes they have been up to 14ft.

“Sometimes you can’t even see there’s a road there, maybe just a post at the side.

“It’s just been blowing and moving all the time. It’s actually been very difficult to make sure the machinery can cope with the elements.

“In one instance we had an excavator where the diesel had frozen because the temperature was sitting at about -18C – we had to heat it up with a blowtorch.”

Today Mr Starrs praised Moray Council for coordinating efforts across the region with a strategy to prioritise the response.

Farmers have also joined the operations in some rural locations to ensure neighbours can still access vital supplies.

Locals living nearby the clear-ups have responded by bringing hot drinks and snacks out to personnel working through the freezing conditions.

Mr Starrs said: “We’ve had five people out doing alternating shifts and they’ve all done an amazing job.

“We realise there’s people out there who are trapped, short of food or running out of heating oil. We have really been doing it to help them.”

Community response to snow deluge praised

Tomorrow Mr Starrs and his crew will move from the A98 on the coast to the Braes of Glenlivet to continue efforts clearing rural routes.

He said: “There are farmers who have had issues getting to livestock in that area.”

Meanwhile, the response to clearing roads has also been praised by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

Peaky Blinders crew stuck overnight in Huntly with freezing canary after A96 snow closure

He said: “Conditions over the weekend were incredibly challenging with high winds causing snow drifts that made many roads across Moray completely unpassable.

“It’s been many years since we’ve seen anything like the conditions over the weekend and it took an incredible effort from the council’s roads teams, Cotag, local farmers and volunteers, to tackle the snow and get the roads cleared.

“In tough circumstances, as always, Moray’s community spirit shown through and although we’re not out of the woods just yet, hopefully we’re now seeing an improvement in the weather.”

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