Highway traffic in snow

Scotland announces early success of road de-icing trials

Scotland is to keep stores of a specialised de-icing liquid at strategic locations for use when temperatures are too low for normal road salt to be effective.

An early trial of the method has provided favourable results, said Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown.

A liquid solution was successfully tested on hard-packed snow and ice on a stretch of road in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. It will provide a new way of clearing roads at temperatures down to minus 20 degrees and strategic stocks will be placed around the country for targeted use during lower temperatures, when normal salt is not as effective.

The minister said: "This is one of the first times this treatment has been used on the Scottish road network and it is encouraging to see this initial trial deliver positive early results.

"Last December we faced an unprecedented situation with the coldest weather for 100 years and it's right we continue to explore ways of continually improving our capacity to respond to severe weather."

Scotland's previous Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, resigned in December following after exceptional snowfall caused widespread and severe disruption to travel and held up deliveries of essential supplies. He faced particular criticism over what was seen as inadequate provision of information.

One of Keith Brown's first actions as his replacement was to announce a six point plan to improve communication with road users and improve the transport response to severe weather. A multi-agency transport response team was also set up including representatives of Scotland's police forces, the trunk road operating companies, Transport Scotland and ScotRail.

As well as exploring innovative ways of keeping roads clear (such as the use of ice-eliminating materials), measures being developed include a range of improved communications to inform the road user such as additional CCTV cameras, more mobile sensors to detect on the ground road conditions and publishing information on forecasts and treatment programmes.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the trial of new road-salting solutions, but said measures needed to go further.

Chris MacRae, FTA's head of policy for Scotland, said: "We welcome continuing efforts by Scottish government, Transport Scotland and their delivery partners to look at methods of combating any repeat of the extreme weather problems that caused so much difficulty for Scotland's supply chains pre-Christmas."

"However, an all-embracing review of all the failings and the successes over the last two months is needed so all the lessons can be learned. The scale of disruption faced by Scotland's supply chain in the pre-Christmas snowfall was unprecedented and many companies are still counting the costs."

MacRae warned against undue focus on individual measures, such as fitting winter tyres on heavy vehicles, and said any review should be "holistic" and should recognise the needs of the multi-modal supply chain.

In the initial phase of snow disruption in Scotland, government had suggested that HGVs could be parked up in case they 'jack-knifed' on snow or ice. But with lorries making essential deliveries, said MacRae, industry battled to persuade policy makers that doing so would be untenable if the economy was to keep moving.

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