get ready for winter               Last week the Scottish Government launched its Ready for Winter campaign in an effort to “encourage people and communities to take simple steps in readiness for tough weather conditions.”

This promotion came on the heels of new research which revealed that “two-thirds (or 66%) [of Scots] have admitted that they could do more to be ready or are not at all prepared” following the first amber warning of this winter in storm Abigail.  Despite “more than a third people saying they had been hit financially through disrupted travel, time off or home repairs” many still do not have essential emergency supplies.

Scots may have been lulled into a false sense of security as “46% of respondents said they were not worried about the prospect of severe weather this winter.” However, government officials would contend that this sentiment is misled.

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, said:

“With the mild winters we’ve experienced in recent years, it does appear that some people are becoming increasingly relaxed about being prepared for severe weather. However, we all know that Scottish winters can quickly bring cold snaps, storms, flooding and high winds all of which can affect people’s homes, those who are travelling, and those who are vulnerable, so there’s no room for complacency.”

Today STV weather forecaster Sean Batty backed the campaign stating:

“Our weather is very volatile, going from extremely mild and stormy to extremely cold and icy. The outlook for the next three months indicates that the risk of spells of windy or even stormy weather is expected to be greater than usual for the time of year but we could still see periods of ice and snow. It’s important to take time to prepare for every weather eventuality so we’re ready and able to cope with whatever winter brings.”

Late last month the Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek MacKay, announced to the Scottish Parliament updates of the Government’s transport resilience plans for this winter. The Minister stated that Transport Scotland, the executive agency accountable for national transportation, has “taken a wide range of steps to… help us mitigate the impact of severe weather, recover our transport networks and get daily life back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Preparatory steps have been introduced across various forms of transportation as Mr. MacKay noted that “we can’t prevent the weather, but we can prepare for it. Our priority, as always, is to keep Scotland moving across all modes of transport.”

Transport Scotland plans on rapidly responding to snow-covered roads as it “will have a record 205 vehicles on hand to plough snow and spread salt,” stocks of which reach approximately 674,000 tonnes, “exceeding the total amount of salt used across Scotland last winter.” Additionally “key routes will be monitored via sensors and live cameras, and road users will be kept up to date through a range of media.”

ScotRail depots have acquired additional winter maintenance equipment, and “a new mobile snow and ice clearance machine that can thaw junctions quickly and providing enhanced resilience on key routes.”

“In the aviation sector, substantial investment has been made by airports on new measures to improve winter resilience since 2010 and 2011 respectively.” One example of this investment being the Glasgow Airport, which has spent “approximately £3 million in new snow clearing equipment, including two new runway sweepers.”

Finally the ferry services, which have their “own distinct challenges” will continue “to inform their customers of disruptions and cancellations as a matter of course via notifications on their websites, emails, text messages and direct contact.”

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald recommends that an important step Scots can take in personal preparation for winter weather is to change their summer tyres to winter versions, which provide tread depth and greater grip in low temperatures.


According to the tyre manufacturer Continental, winter tyres are recommended any time the temperature drops below +7 degrees centigrade. The company advises that:

“Unlike summer tyres (everyday standard tyres in the UK), winter tyres do not harden at lower temperatures. That means they give you a much better grip on the road and the ability to stop in a shorter distance, increasing your safety on the road.”

Mr. MacDonald encourages larger-scale adoption of these tyres as regular practice during winter months:

“There is a general acceptance that winter tyres are safer to use in the winter months, and if we are to experience colder Scandinavian-style winters, due to global warming, then it will soon be the case that winter tyres are a necessity to help avoid the country virtually grinding to a halt every time there are significant falls of snow or below zero temperatures.

“I also believe it is imperative that car insurance companies offer some kind of incentive, with reduced premiums for motorists who use winter tyres. Additionally there is a need for more official advice in the Highway Code, and other official publications, highlighting the benefits of winter tyres, and potentially legislation to require the use of these tyres during winter months.

“The current problem is many motorists only change their summer tyres when the tread depth is down to the legal minimum, which is completely unsatisfactory in harsh winter conditions when the chance of having an accident is substantially higher.

“I look forward to a greater acceptance that winter tyres are a solution to difficult winter driving conditions and also look forward to all agencies, including insurance companies, working together to encourage wider use of winter tyres.”

For more information on how to prepare for winter visit

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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