Freezing conditions disrupt supplies across Scotland

Image caption,
Empty shelves have been typical in many of Scotland's shops

Snow and ice on much of Scotland's road network has caused disruption to fuel, food and some medical supplies.

Signs of a thaw have also seen flooding at premises in the Strathclyde area.

Transport Scotland said roads remained "treacherous" despite rising temperatures. Drivers were urged to exercise extreme caution.

The Scottish government said fuel production had been increased and supplies were returning to normal, with targeted deliveries taking place.

A third of independent Scottish garage forecourts had been closed at the start of the day after they were unable to receive fuel supplies.

Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol, which represents 6,000 independent forecourts in the UK, said 300 out of 900 had been shut.

He said this was not due to a shortage but was a supply chain problem.

Meanwhile, diabetic James Perry, 63, told the BBC Scotland news website that he had been unable to collect a prescription for insulin from a chemist in Forth Valley because supplies had been disrupted.

He said: "I have three days supply of insulin left, but the pharmacist told me that they did not have my prescription because they had not had a delivery.

"They said that they were expecting one at any time and told me that if I ran out of insulin I was to contact NHS 24."

A government spokesman said: "Refineries will continue to manage fuel supplies prudently and will work closely with the Scottish government and fuel distributors to make sure that deliveries get to those most in need."

Despite the rise in temperatures, ice on the roads has continued to cause disruption.

The M73 which was blocked southbound by a jack-knifed lorry at Junction 2, Baillieston, has since reopened.

The closure had caused severe delays for drivers in the area, including those heading for the M74.

There was fresh snow overnight in Orkney and drifting snow caused problems on the A90 north of Aberdeen at Foveran and on the Aberdeen-Stonehaven stretch.

A special phone line has been set up for drivers who were forced to abandon their vehicles on the hard shoulders of the M74, M8 and M80 earlier this week.

Strathclyde Police said car owners could call 0141 445 2845 to arrange for officers to help them retrieve their cars safely.

The force stressed the phone line should only be used by the owners of the 60 vehicles which have been left on the hard shoulders.

And Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said it had responded to 128 flood-related calls since midnight, mostly involving business premises in Glasgow city centre and North Lanarkshire.

The service also warned over the danger of falling icicles.

East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and Shetland schools have blanket closures on Thursday, with some schools closing for a third or fourth day this week.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, have been on the streets of Edinburgh helping to clear up after major snowfalls.

The Army was given formal clearance by the Ministry of Defence after a request from the city council.

The soldiers will be joined by personnel from the Royal Navy and the RAF.

North Lanarkshire Council has now also asked for help from the MoD.

It wants troops to clear snow from footpaths so that vulnerable people can access vital services.

Transport is also being sought to help patients with life-threatening conditions access treatment and to take shopping to vulnerable residents.

A Scottish government spokesman said everyone in the supply chain was working "extremely hard" to ensure adequate stocks of fuel and food.

Strathclyde Police said 60% of forecourts in its area now had supplies.

However, the National Farmers Union said milk collection in some parts of the country was now a major issue, with many dairy farmers having to dispose of milk in recent days.

The shooting of ducks, geese and waders is to be suspended in Scotland for the second time this year because of severe weather.

From one minute past midnight on Friday it will become illegal to shoot ducks including reared mallard, geese, woodcock, snipe and golden plover.

The suspension, approved by the Scottish government, could last for up to two weeks, but will be reviewed after seven days.

Dr Colin Shedden, director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Scotland, said: "The legal suspension of the shooting of wildfowl and wading birds offers extra protection when an extended period of severe weather is likely to disrupt the birds' feeding and roosting patterns."

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