Farmers are vital to coping with winter

The role of farmers and agricultural contractors in helping Scotland cope with the worst of the winter weather has been recognised in a new code of practice.

The code, entitled “The Use of Farmers for Winter Service”, was produced by NFU Scotland, Transport Scotland and the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS). It builds on the difficult winters experienced in 2009/10 and 2010/11 and recognises the vital role that farmers and agricultural contractors played.

The code acknowledges that there is an opportunity for local authorities to utilise a farmer’s time and equipment and their position within the local communities to help keep roads clear of snow and ice and keep the country running.

NFUS’s legal and technical committee chairman John Smith said: “Farmers and agricultural contractors have a vital role in keeping Scotland’s rural communities moving when winter hits.

“In the harshest of weather, farmers have proven themselves to be able and willing to play their part in assisting local authorities. Keeping all roads clear in winter not only benefits the food and farming sectors but ensures all communities, no matter how remote or vulnerable, have access to the full range of required services.

“In 2009 and 2010, local communities, local authorities and emergency services were full of praise for the work of farmers in keeping main and minor roads open and ensuring vital services could continue.

“This code, with the inclusion of a model agreement, will help local authorities and farmers put in place a more formal and consistent arrangement for those undertaking emergency winter services, particularly snow clearing. Having that in place will provide additional reassurances to communities that preparations for the worst in winter weather are well in hand.”