The severe winter has cost Aberdeenshire Council more than £7 million to grit and clear its roads and streets.
The local authority’s winter budget for 2017-18 was set at £4.3m for gritting, snow clearing and other work on its network of roads and paths.
But a new report has revealed the council is projecting costs in the region of £7.1m after severe weather episodes in December 2017 and the arrival of the Beast from the East in February.
It was revealed in January that the council’s winter maintenance budget had been used up with the local authority having to use a reserve fund to make up the shortfall.
The report, by Bill Lennox, the council’s roads quality and resources manager, revealed the local authority predicts 61,000 tonnes of salt was used to tackle the winter roads, with more than 70,000 hours of labour.
It said: “In an average winter we can use 40,000 to 45,000 tonnes of salt and the labour resource required is approximately 56,000 hours.”
Severe weather during December saw snow cover most of the Aberdeenshire region and was later followed by a prolonged period where temperatures rose to, at, or above freezing during the day and then dipped well below freezing overnight.
This was accompanied with a period of snow, sleet and rain until December 18 which saw snow compacted and turned to ice.
Mr Lennox, in his report, said the council has 32 frontline gritters on primary routes and a further 22 back-up gritters mainly operating on the secondary network.
The report said: “The sleet and rain prior to the overnight snow on December 8 meant that efforts to establish a de-bonding layer of salt prior to the forecasted snowfall were largely ineffective.”
It added the council had 36 tractors clearing footways on Friday December 8 with 17 on the Saturday and nine on Sunday with staff availability reduced at weekends.
The report said the lower level of resources over the weekend period resulted in less footway clearing than occurred midweek.
It added: “Any footways that still had a covering of snow beyond the first weekend quickly turned to hard packed ice that was difficult to deal with.”
The Beast from the East in February “proved to be challenging” for the council, according to the report.
However, it states that feedback from the public was that it had “performed well”.
The report added that weather conditions were “significantly different” in February which “no doubt” impacted on the council’s response, with conditions much drier in the lead up allowing for a more effective de-bonding layer to be applied prior to the first snow.
The two weather events this winter indicate a further in-depth review is “warranted” with councillors on the infrastructure services committee being asked to approve a range of proposed future actions.
These include improved and clearer planning of snow clearing as opposed to ice prevention, developing proposals to improve the availability of labour resources and improving the use of longer term weather forecast information.
Members of the committee will be asked to consider the report, and approve the proposed future actions, when it meets on Thursday.