A FLEET of more than 100 farmers could be called upon to deal with heavy snowfall across Hampshire, the county council has revealed.
The army of volunteers could be mobilised if snow storms threaten to cripple the county’s highways network.
Scores of snow ploughs have been set aside, which can be fitted onto farmers’ tractors and used to help keep highways clear.
The news comes after the Met Office issued a yellow alert for snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. The organisation has warned the snow could be so severe in parts it could leave drivers stranded and cause power cuts.
Councillor Rob Humby, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘It looks like some of the coldest weather we’ve experienced in some years could be coming our way.
‘Even though we have been salting far more frequently than usual this winter, our salt barns around the county have stocks of around 13,000 tonnes, with further replenishment due this week; and our teams remain on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
‘The main road network has already been treated several times in preparation for the incoming weather, and, with a prolonged cold spell forecast, our teams are also planning to treat the minor routes in advance to make sure everyone can continue to get to work, school and college, whatever the weather.
‘I would ask Hampshire residents to be patient if they find themselves driving behind a gritter, and allow the vehicles the space to do their work keeping our roads free of ice and snow.
‘Thousands of community salt bins are ready for people to help keep public footpaths free of ice and snow. With a prolonged cold spell coming up, it is important to remember that only a small amount of salt is needed to treat reasonably large areas. I would also remind people to drive safely, adjust their driving according to the conditions and leave more time for their journeys.’
If the snow does arrive, the army of farming volunteers would be used to bolster the county’s highways team numbers.
Salt wicks, which are similar to sandbags, will be deployed to treat known ‘wet spots’.
These ensure that any water running off fields and onto the roads is salty, meaning these roads are coated in salt ahead of any freeze.
With extreme sub zero temperatures forecast overnight, residents on the road will need to be particularly careful as salt begins to lose its effect from about minus five degrees.
Highways crews will always salt Hampshire’s main roads first. These ‘Priority one’ routes cover approximately one third of the county road network but carry the majority of Hampshire’s traffic; covering A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to hospitals and other key emergency hubs, large schools and colleges, areas of high traffic concentration and public transport interchanges.
With the cold weather expected to last for at least a week, the County Council is reminding those who may be vulnerable to cold weather, such as the very young or old, and those with certain medical conditions, will need to take extra care.
Those worried about elderly neighbours or relatives is urged to call the council’s adult health and care team on 0300 5551386 from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday. Call 0300 555 1373 on the weekend.