2021 has already seen its fair share of snow and icy conditions, and with the threat of more due in the latest Beast from the East, people could find themselves waking up to treacherous driving conditions and cut off from essential services. Will Langer, Rural Surveyor, explores what farmers should consider before offering to clear rural roads.
"Those who live in rural communities, will often find themselves stranded during heavy snowfall, unlike their urban counterparts, where main roads receive consistent gritting and clearing.
With reports of armies of farmers heading out to rescue those stranded in the latest snow drifts, using their heavy machinery to dig out motorists, you may yourself be considering getting out in the snow to help clear roads or tow out unfortunate drivers. But, the question you should be asking yourself is whether there is anything that you should be considering before offering your assistance.
The answer is the same for most things and that’s to be cautious, and make sure you have all the facts and that you have considered the following points:
The most important thing that you should consider is the insurance implications of going out and clearing and towing other people’s property. Always check with your insurer that, if you make a mistake whilst out and about, you are going to be covered under your liability insurance (and it’s an adequate amount!). If you alert them to your intentions, then generally you should be fine, but it’s always safer to check.
Before going anywhere, check that your own kit is ready for winter and the snow. Are you going out in a proper roadworthy machine that has all of the necessary safety equipment and has more than adequate traction and capabilities?
Make sure that you have sufficient supplies with you in the cab, should you find yourself stranded, or indeed, set for a long day of rescuing motorists. Consider taking blankets, hot sugary drinks and food, as well as medical kit. Keep your phone charged should you need to request the assistance of emergency services for any injured parties.
Have you considered seeking out any contracts or help from your local authority. Some councils offer payments for keeping routes clear via winter maintenance schemes. It may be worth having a chat with your local council and seeing what might be available on a formal basis.
Is there any preemptive gritting/salting that you can do in your area or as above, help the council tackle more areas?
Helping those in your community can be an extremely rewarding feeling, but just make sure that you’re protected against any liability before undertaking that good deed."
If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the CLA South West team for advice.