DCC bosses are ready for the winter


- Credit: Archant

County Hall bosses say they are prepared and ready to keep Devon moving this winter.

Devon County Council (DCC) spends between £4 million and £5 million a year on roads affected by winter weather – whether it is salting roads, clearing snow or responding to flooding issues.

While the last two winters have been dominated by storms and flooding, the county council still needs around 25,000 tonnes of salt stored in preparation for the start of winter.

This will be used to treat just over 2,000 miles of Devon’s primary and secondary salting routes.

Snow warden volunteers in more than 280 towns and parishes are also prepared with their self-help plans should Devon be hit by prolonged severe weather.

Snow wardens provide vital support to council and are the key point of contact with the local community.

In an average winter, around 14,000 tonnes of salt are used on the roads, but in severe winters it can go up to almost 30,000 tonnes. However, last year 12,000 tonnes of salt were used in Devon.

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Devon has over 75 vehicles in its winter fleet, operated by South West Highways Ltd (SWH), ready to support winter operations with gritters, snow ploughs and snow blowers.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and Flood Prevention, said: “The last two winters have seen flooding and storms batter the county, and our road network in particular.

“Our teams have already been called into action to deal with flooding incidents, but they are equally ready should temperatures drop.

“With 8,000 miles of roads Devon has the biggest road network of any authority in the country, so it’s impossible for the county council to salt every road.

“We target the busiest routes on our network to keep Devon moving, and while we aim to keep the main routes as clear as possible, there’s a limit to what we can achieve at a very local level.

“That’s where the snow warden scheme provides communities with an additional resource that we wouldn’t be able to achieve without them.

“It’s encouraging that so many communities across Devon have adopted this scheme so positively and our thanks must go to them for their support.

“It has empowered communities to co-ordinate local action, and they are now better equipped to be more resilient against severe weather.

“Everyone should be prepared for the possibility of travel disruption over the winter months and plan journeys accordingly.

“We would urge everyone to keep an eye on the forecast, be alert to the conditions and take extreme care.”

DCC’s highway operations control centre (HOCC) is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to co-ordinate work on the highway network.

It is equipped to monitor the effects of winter weather on Devon’s roads. The technology used by the HOCC includes a network of roadside ice detectors at strategic locations, which provide information on road surface temperatures and are used to help predict conditions.

Radar and satellite images are also used to track rain and cloud cover across the county, and DCC also has close links with specialised weather forecasters.

For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel or for updates on Twitter follow @HughHOCC and @Devonroads