Alert Section

Ploughing and gritting - frequently asked questions

Flintshire County Council has recently reviewed its Winter Maintenance Policy. The policy dictates which classification of road receives precautionary gritting treatment before the on-set off icy conditions. This is to ensure that the Council treats all routes with similar characteristics at the same level of service across the County. Following the review, 3 rural routes have been affected and will no longer be subject to precautionary treatment.  Details of the affected routes can be found on the attached link. Not Precautionary Treated Maps (PDF 4MB)

1. Which roads are gritted first?

View further information on priority roads.

2. Does the County Council salt/clear footways?

View further information on footway clearance.

3. Why has my local salt bin not been filled?

View further information on salt bins and grit heaps.

4. Will the County Council be providing any more grit bins?

View further information on salt bins and grit heaps.

5. Why aren’t all routes leading to and from doctors’ surgeries gritted?

There are frequent requests and queries about the treatment of roads leading to doctors' surgeries.  Routes are prioritised on the basis of the volume of traffic and the majority of hospitals are on treated roads. Treating all such routes would divert resources and have an adverse effect on the provision of the service on other routes that carry more traffic. There would be a significant impact on budget provision because of the need for additional resources. However we will keep these requests under review.

6. Is the Council responsible for gritting doctors/dentist/school car parks?

No. This responsibility rests with those that own or operate the car park.   Schools were asked if they wish to procure salt from the Councils highway supplier in readiness for the winter period. The school themselves are responsible for snow clearance within the school boundaries.

7. Do you grit bus routes?

Most service bus routes are treated but not all bus routes can be covered - there are simply too many of them, particularly in rural areas.

8. What can people do for themselves?

We provide grit bins and salt heaps throughout the county on routes that aren’t routinely treated – particularly in rural areas. This allows people to spread salt themselves on local footways and country roads. View further information on salt bins and grit heaps.

9. Can I remove ice/snow from the road outside my house/business?    

Yes - please do so.  Salt bins are provided so residents and businesses can clear nearby footways. Snow Code - clearing snow and ice yourself (new window)

10. How does the salt work?

Salt works by lowering the temperature at which water freezes. It relies on the action of vehicle tyres to be spread over the road and mix the salt in with the snow and ice, so requires traffic to be effective.  Salt will work at temperatures down to minus 8-10 degrees Celcius, below that roads will still freeze. 

Rain can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to re-icing.  Also when rain turns to snow coinciding with the rush hour, early salting cannot take place as it would be washed away and gritters cannot make progress due to traffic congestion.

11. How and when do you clear the roads?

During the winter, we get up-to-date weather forecasts which we use to decide when we need to grit. Gritters are put on standby in response to forecasts predicting icy conditions or snowfall. Where necessary, we can send them out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When deciding whether to plough or grit we consider whether or not the road surfaces are wet or dry, the likelihood of rain or snow (based on a detailed forecast), and if there is any salt already on the roads from previous salting runs. This means:

  • Precautionary salting can take place on roads that are likely to freeze.
  • Most effort can be directed to the worst affected areas.
  • An efficient, cost effective and environmentally sensitive winter service is provided which minimises salt usage.

Within 90 minutes of issuing instructions to salt the roads, the 14 gritters are loaded and up and crews are on the move.  We clear the priority roads first and, once they are clear, we move on to other roads and footways.  Salting the priority network is completed in three hours usually after the evening rush hour or before the morning rush hour.  Treatment is carried out around the clock until priority routes are clear of snow and/or ice – including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 

All our gritters are fitted with tracking systems which monitors their location and helps us deliver a more efficient and effective service.  

During periods of heavy snow, salting is supplemented by snow ploughing. If snowfalls occur, or heavy snow is forecast to stick, all available resources including the many agricultural contractors who are contracted to have snow ploughs fitted to their tractors, are mobilised.  During snow all the gritters are fitted with snow ploughs and each pass of the plough is supplemented by a salt spread to prevent snow from compacting and so ease subsequent ploughing.