Six people across Europe have died because of hurricane-force winds brought by Storm Ciara after it reached the UK and northern mainland Europe on Sunday.
#StormCiara has been named and will bring very unsettled weather across the UK through Saturday night and Sunday.
— Met Office (@metoffice) February 5, 2020
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has defended the lack of action to stop ice falling from the Queensferry Crossing after the bridge was closed because cars were being damaged.
The £1.35 billion bridge over the Forth looks likely to stay shut to traffic until Wednesday while engineers investigate the falling ice, which has affected the crossing for consecutive winters.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Matheson said the bridge’s designers were planning on installing ice sensors on to the structure “in the coming months” but no contract had yet been awarded for the work to be done.
Arguing the Queensferry Crossing “has given us much greater resilience than the old Forth Road Bridge”, the Transport Secretary said there have been approximately 30 occasions where the new bridge has remained open when its predecessor would have been partially or fully shut.
Since the bridge’s closure on Monday night over safety concerns, motorists are crossing the Forth via the Kincardine Bridge – a 35-mile diversion.
Mr Matheson, who said he “very much regrets” the disruption, added: “Clearly this ice build-up issue needs to be further investigated.
“There was an incident towards the end of January or February last year which was being investigated and looked at by the engineers and designers of the bridge to try to identify where the build up of ice had been taking place – whether it was on the cables or on the tower.
“As a result of that work, they’ve been taking forward a proposal to introduce ice sensors on to some parts of the structure.
“That work is now at a fairly advanced stage of the procurement exercise and they are due to look at the installation of the ice sensors in the coming months.
“That’s to assist them in recognising that when there is a build-up of ice on any key parts of the structure that could present a safety risk, they can take action at an earlier stage in order to prevent any potential risk to bridge users.”
Warning of ongoing problems for motorists, Mr Matheson said: “Given the weather forecast from the Met Office, they expect there to continue to be problems with the snow building up on the cables and – as a result of the safety risk that presents – the bridge won’t open if that continues to be the case during the course of the day.
“However, should the situation change and they believe it is safe for the bridge to open again, they will do so as quickly as possible.”