SOMERSET'S gritting lorries covered almost as many miles this winter as in the two previous years combined.

The county council's gritting teams are standing down after travelling the equivalent of nearly three times around the world during the winter just gone.

The 70,200 miles clocked up on a total of 1,842 route actions on the 66 occasions freezing temperatures were forecast compares to 44,000 miles in 2019-20 and 32,800 miles in 2018/19.

The latest gritting season included additional work to ensure safe passage to vaccination and testing sites, with additional gritters and routes sourced.

During the season, more than 7,500 tonnes of salt was used – with additional salt ordered to maintain stock levels.

April’s unseasonably cold weather meant the season had to be extended by a fortnight due to persistent cold temperatures.

It was all carried out under strict Covid-19 protocols, with shielding and self-isolation providing the team an extra challenge.

Furthermore, two weather stations were replaced as the council continues to invest in infrastructure to support more accurate weather forecasting and decision-making.

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “In a challenging year, our highways team have done a terrific job throughout the winter, often working long, unsociable hours to help keep our roads safe for essential journeys, like key workers and our emergency services.

“The team of almost 100 people worked together to ensure our network was safe and were ready to respond wherever and whenever bad weather hit, going the extra mile to ensure people could safely travel to vaccination and testing sites.

“I’d like to thank them on a job well done.”