Scotland is ready for winter, the country’s transport minister has said but warned that recent weather events should serve as a warning to take action on climate change.
Opening Road Expo Scotland in Glagow, Fiona Hyslop recounted the impact on many areas of the country of recent named storms, with historically high levels of rain.
She noted that local authorities and other organisations had worked collaboratively to respond to these events, which included flooding and landslides, and ensure that the affected communities were helped and supported.
She told delegates: ’Thank you very much to all who were involved in that work. And across the whole of Scotland, I’m sure that a number of you in this room played a significant part in helping to reestablish the transport network so they could support the stricken communities.’
Ms Hyslop continued: ‘However, the increased likelihood of such climate change events should serve as a warning to each of us of the need to take action to reduce emissions and increase the resilience of our infrastructure.’
As temperatures plummeted, with the Met Office issuing weather warnings for parts of the country, the minister assured delegates: 'Scotland is ready for winter.’
She added that national salt stocks were higher than the amount used in winter 2022-23 and that Transport Scotland has more than 230 vehicles available for snow ploughing and salt spreading on the country’s trunk road network.
New maintenance contracts had seen significant changes in winter service provision, she added.
Ms Hyslop told delegates that climate change represents major a challenge to Scotland’s infrastructure, adding that there is a correlation between how resilient the country’s trunk road network is and how resilient Scotland is.
She cited a number of recommendations from the Scottish Government’s second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), including safety and adaptation to climate change, which she said reflected an intention to produce the most resilient network possible in the face of the mounting challenges posed by climate change.
She added: 'I’m determined that our transition to net zero must be fair and just and I will continue to pursue all actions for emissions reductions and push for higher ambition for a future government on net zero.’
The minister said it was ’regrettable’ that the devolved government had postponed the publication of its draft climate change plan due to challenges, including recent changes to UK Government policy.