1. This report outlines the work undertaken by the Winter Weather Review Group during the summer of 2011 and sets out its conclusions in respect of how Scotland can improve its resilience to winter weather.
2. The severe weather Scotland experienced during the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 presented particular challenges for central and local government, public and commercial services, and local communities and individuals.
3. Over Scotland, in terms of snowfall and cold weather, the winter of 2009-10 was the most severe for some 31 years and December 2010 was the coldest December for over 100 years. Last year, the experience of the previous winter's severe weather helped inform planning for the winter ahead, with changes and improvements made across a range of services. However, in the face of spells of more than seven days during which time the temperature failed to rise above freezing, and snow depths of greater than 20 cm in some parts of Scotland, disruption to services was inevitable.
4. This report acknowledges how public service providers, businesses and communities worked together to keep Scotland moving, despite the challenging weather conditions. It also outlines the lessons identified by a number of key service providers, lessons which may help others anticipate the potential disruption to their organisations in the event of severe winter weather, and plan how to minimise it.
5. This report is structured in the following way:
- Projections for future winters.
- Managing the response.
- Key issues by sector.
- Conclusions and recommendations.
6. This report reflects on the experiences of all three sectors - public, private and voluntary - where examples of best practice and lessons identified, both good and bad, have been highlighted.
7. This report gives an account of the work carried out in each sector and what worked best for them. By doing so, it is hoped that clear lines of communication amongst those working to keep Scotland moving and safe for all in our society will be simplified and strengthened.
WINTER WEATHER REVIEW GROUP
8. The Winter Weather Review Group was set up by the Scottish Government to share best practice and lessons identified and to inform planning and policy development for the future. The Group had its inaugural meeting in June 2011 and met a total of three times over the summer. Membership of the Group included representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors (the full list is at Annex A). The Group was chaired by the Scottish Government's Deputy Director of Resilience and Resilience Division provided secretariat support.
9. The Group's purpose was to build on the lessons learned from the severe weather of the winter of 2009-10, by promoting awareness of, and sharing lessons identified from reviews undertaken, or from feedback received by central and local government, and individual sectors and stakeholders about Scotland's response to the prolonged period of severe weather during the 2010-11 winter.
10. The focus of the Group's work was on sharing experiences and learning lessons from one another. Bringing together those responsible for managing the response to winter weather, businesses, and others affected by the conditions has allowed the sharing of those lessons collectively, thereby enhancing the learning process. Over the past four months, material submitted by members in respect of the findings of individual reviews and debrief exercises has been circulated within the Group. Members were encouraged to disseminate this information widely within their own organisations and sectors in order to maximise the number of stakeholders benefiting from the experience and lessons identified by others in respect of last winter. This material and the Group's report will, in turn, help inform future winter planning across the sectors and raise awareness of the need to have business continuity arrangements in place.