Transport Minister Keith Brown has chaired a further Scottish Government Resilience (SGoR) meeting this morning as part of the response to the impact of the severe weather across Scotland.
Heavy snow caused disruption across the UK throughout yesterday and continues to impact on energy supplies and transport infrastructure today. In Scotland more than 18,000 homes are without power, mainly in Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute and the Isle of Arran.
Utility companies are working hard to restore power and are proactively calling out to vulnerable customers to provide reassurance, information and support.
In addition, generators are being deployed in some of the worst affected areas to restore power to customers while repairs are being carried on the network infrastructure. Additional linesmen and engineers have also been deployed in affected areas to accelerate the restoration process as the weather conditions improve.
The weather has also impacted on the road network in some areas and difficulties remain on the A77 and A75, with sections of the road remaining blocked. Efforts continue to reopen those sections of roads closed and welfare centres in Stranraer, Ballantrae, Newton Stewart and Girvan have provided shelter and food overnight for drivers who were unable to complete their journeys. Meanwhile, Police and mountain rescue supported drivers who elected to stay in their cars with provisions.
The A9 which saw closures yesterday Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore as a result of high winds and low visibility has reopened and traffic is moving on that route.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
“The impact of yesterday’s extreme wintry weather across the UK has been seen in some areas of Scotland, with the South West of Scotland and Argyll and Bute seeing the worst of the conditions.
“Power companies are working closely with road operating companies to provide emergency access and with local authorities to identify vulnerable customers to ensure they are being dealt with. They are also doing all they can to support communities affected by power outages.
“While the worst of the snow is slowly abating, high winds blowing snow already on the ground continues to make clearing the A75 and A77 in some sections difficult. Every effort is being made collectively by our road operating companies, local authorities and other partners to clear the main routes. Some drivers chose to stay in their cars overnight on the A75 and they were supported by emergency services and the local mountain rescue volunteers. We’re not aware of anyone who was not offered a form of accommodation last night.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the efforts of all involved. From council employees working flat out to support the vulnerable and those in rest centres through the dedicated staff in all our emergency services and utility companies who worked through the night we’ve seen a joined up and committed response. I’d particular single out those communities and volunteers who have contributed – the great work done by Mountain Rescue and by farmers in clearing roads and supporting the needy in Dumfries and Galloway are just some examples.
“Weather reports indicate the cold weather is set to continue into next week, so our winter fleet of 130 vehicles will continue to work flat out across the trunk road network provide gritting and road clearing operations and moving plant to where it’s needed as required.
“While we’re doing all we can to minimize travel related disruption, we’d urge drivers to follow police advice, particularly where the advice is not to travel. Please plan all journeys in advance and use all the available traffic and travel information.
“The Scottish Government’s Resilience team will continue to coordinate response and recovery activity throughout the weekend and offer assistance where possible.”
The Multi Agency Response Team (MART), based at the Traffic Control Centre in Glasgow, includes representatives from Traffic Scotland, Transport Scotland, the police, rail operators, road operating companies and the Met Office. Trunk road operating companies have all their resources available, including patrols, and will pre-position resources in areas of special attention.
For real time journey information visit www.trafficscotland.org follow @trafficscotland on Twitter, or call 0800 028 14 14.
The full Weather Alerts, including the Chief Forecaster’s Assessment and a map showing the areas included in the Alerts, are available here:
Information on the potential impacts at the differing impacts levels can be found at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/guide/weather/severe-weather-advice
Rail, ferries and air users should check with individual service operators’ websites.
Transport Scotland, working in partnership with the police, has developed a severe weather information strategy to warn and inform road users when significant disruption to the road network is expected during extreme weather. The advice and information service will commence when severe weather is forecast within Scotland. Forecast information will be provided in advance and during severe weather conditions. The travel advice relates to four specific stages which will be adopted depending on the severity of the weather:
Normal operations – No severe weather
Travel with caution – Police are advising people that conditions for road travel are hazardous and drivers should exercise extra caution.
High risk of disruption for road journeys – Police are advising that conditions for travel are extremely poor and there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys. Travellers are likely to experience significant delays
Avoid travelling on the roads – Police advise drivers to avoid travelling on the roads. Travellers will experience severe delays of several hours or more.
The Scottish Government’s ‘Ready for Winter?’ campaign, in partnership with the British Red Cross, was launched in October and provides information and advice to individuals and communities on how to prepare and cope with severe weather including snow, ice, flooding and high-winds. Detailed advice on how to deal with winter weather at home, on the move, in the workplace and in the community is available online at http://www.readyscotland.org/are-you-ready/winter-weather/ . A new Ready Scotland smartphone app, which gives users instant access to information, advice and essential contact details for a wide range of emergency situations offline, can be downloaded free at http://www.readyscotland.org/are-you-ready/smartphone-app.