THE first of Hampshire’s new flamethrower-wielding pothole busters is set to take to the county’s highways, to repair roads left damaged by the winter weather.

With the ability to repair up to 150 holes per day, this new ‘Dragon Patcher’ will be deployed to find and fix road damage as part of a new highways strategy by the county council.

Owned by Skanska, Hampshire County Council’s roads contractor, the truck expels flames to de-ice and dry out the road surface, before cleaning it with compressed air. The potholes are then sealed with a stone mix and hot bitumen emulsion.

It’s claimed the patcher is five times faster than traditional methods, saves money and, because it is operated from the vehicle’s cabin, is also safer.

The second vehicle will be delivered to the council before the end of April.

Council roads boss Rob Humby said: “Good roads are vital to Hampshire’s long-term prospects as a successful place to live and work. A good highway network also has a huge impact on residents’ quality of life.

“We are continually exploring ways we can get the most for our money and looking for new innovations and developments to help us get the job done on the highways network efficiently, thoroughly and with as little disruption as possible.

“I’m really pleased the county council was able to put in extra money to match the Government’s pothole funding allocation for councils earlier this year, and we were able to buy two Dragon Patchers dedicated to Hampshire.

“The recent snow and ice caused a lot of extra damage to the road network, and the winter is certainly not over yet. Frost, ice and snow all damage roads, but I’m confident the Dragon Patchers will quickly start to make a difference where it’s needed.”

The council has confirmed the patchers will be used on both rural and urban roads.