Page last updated at 00:35 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Council reduces snow blower use

Snow plough on A9
Officers said there had been a declining trend in the use of road salt

Warmer winters have seen Highland Council use less road salt and reduce its number of snow blowers from a high of 19 in past years to just five.

In a report to councillors, officers said Met Office predictions were for higher temperatures and less snow.

It comes just weeks after a prolonged spell of bad weather saw Highland use more treatment than previously.

But in 2007, there was so little snow that Scotland's ski resorts reported one of their worst seasons in years.

The figure on snow blowers and a comment on a declining trend in salt use are contained in the minutes of Highland's climate change working group, which will be tabled at Thursday's meeting of the full council.

High water

Officers told the working group that the local authority needed to be prepared, and ready to adapt, to the threat of extreme storms and high rainfall.

The region has been hit by severe flooding in recent years.

Alert systems used by the council include text messages that warn services of high water levels before they become critical.

The first phase of a 10m scheme designed to protect Inverness from flooding was given the go-ahead in December.

Meanwhile, thousands of tonnes of rock salt have been spread on northern roads so far this winter.

Highland Council figures released in February showed 77,000 tonnes of the treatment for ice was used, with fresh supplies being shipped in.

The average annual usage of rock salt over the past five years has been 55,000 tonnes.

In 2007-08, the council spent 4.2m on winter maintenance, while 3.7m has been spent in this financial year.

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