Scottish ministers activate snow response

The Scottish government has activated its multi-agency response team as heavy snow and strong winds hit many areas.Forecasters predicted heavy snow throughout Thursday across Argyll, the Highlands, south west and central belt.The shipping forecast warned of hurricane force 12 for the Hebrides, with winds reaching speeds of up to 90mph over parts of Scotland.Transport Minister Keith Brown said more than 115 winter vehicles were on hand to respond to the conditions.He urged drivers to plan journeys and to follow police travel advice, but said the country’s trunk road network was open on Thursday morning.He added that the Traffic Scotland website would provide regular travel updates.”Our multi-agency response team has been activated ahead of the forecast snow to manage circumstances as they unfold, and ensure a co-ordinated approach to dealing with any issues as they arise,” he said.“In addition we are well prepared with over 455,750 tonnes of salt secured or on order across Scotland – compared to the 545,600 tonnes used from the start of winter to date.”The multi agency team, which includes operating companies, the police, Traffic Scotland and ScotRail, was set up following the last severe winter weather.Members of the Met Office have also joined Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) staff at their Perth Office to ensure coordination over possible flood risks.Sepa has issued a number of flood watches for rivers in Argyll, Highland, Tayside, Shetland and around Stirling.According to the Met Office, there could be snow to depths of 5-10cm on the hills, and 2-5cm at lower levels with 1-2cm possible in populated areas.Western Isles Council – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – said its emergency planning group had met to discuss the severe weather conditions.A spokesman said public services, including schools, bus services and social care, could be disrupted and to check its website for updates – BBC