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Road salting (gritting) and snow clearance

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Shortcuts for road salting (gritting) and snow clearance

Helping you drive safely in bad weather

When we salt roads

Decisions are based on road temperatures, rather than air temperatures, and salting is likely whenever road temperatures are near freezing. Other factors like moisture, heat retention and time of day or night will influence the decision. Treatment by salt is normally carried out after the evening peak traffic period or before the morning rush. This is because frost and ice do not normally affect road surfaces until late evening or early morning. Usually it takes two hours to complete a salting route.

Which roads we salt

With such a large road network, it would be unrealistic and uneconomic to attempt to treat all roads. All key routes in Wiltshire will receive precautionary salting when ice is forecast. This will include all motorways, trunk roads, class A and B roads and the more important lower class roads. This should ensure the majority of road users live within a reasonable distance of a salted road. This network is under constant review and may be expanded during the current season. Please remember that the majority of minor roads will receive no treatment, and because arrangements may not always go according to plan, you should never assume a road has been salted

If temperatures are predicted to remain below freezing after the morning rush, then a larger network may be salted. This additional network includes mainly lower class roads serving housing estates and main accesses to villages and hamlets.

During longer periods of cold weather ,we may instruct salting to deal with persistent ice on minor roads which are not included within the precautionary or community networks, and invoke arrangements with town and parish councils to take action in their area.

Why we salt roads

Our aim is to make the county’s roads as safe as possible for road users and to reduce delays caused by bad weather. We salt key routes when there is a risk of ice. The key routes in Wiltshire total a length of 1160km (725miles) which is 25% of the entire maintained road network. Using our fleet of specialist vehicles, we provide a 24 hour response in bad weather. A single precautionary salting treatment will cost, on average, £17,000

Salt bins

We supply and maintain some 1600 salt bins located throughout the county. They are available for both residents and the travelling public for use on public roads and footpaths. Requests for refills can be made online or by calling 0300 456 0105. If you require further details, please contact your town and parish councils

Using Salt Bins effectively

  • Salt is most effective when spread before the snow falls
  • Clear snow before spreading salt. Adding a small amount of grit/sand to the salt is more effective during snow fall
  • Spread salt thinly, just one tablespoon is enough to treat 1 square metre
  • Attempt to create a safe route through a path / street, rather than clearing the full width of a road
  • Beware of traffic, wear bright clothes and work with neighbours
  • Do not spread salt in the rain - it will only wash away
  • If a bin is empty, use table salt instead

Snow clearance

In periods of prolonged snow the main snow clearing resources will be concentrated on priority routes until they have been opened sufficiently to maintain a reasonable traffic flow in both directions. Other roads are then treated in accordance with local priorities and conditions.

Ploughing will commence as soon as there is sufficient depth to plough and it is apparent that snowfall is continuing.

If heavy or continuous falls are predicted a snow emergency will be called and the Emergency Control Centre established. In this event, the county's entire fleet of gritters will be mobilised and supplemented with the council's owned snow blades and blowers that are allocated to local farmers or contractors.

Footways (to include footways, pavements, cycle routes and cycleways) will only be treated in times of persistent ice or snow. When this occurs, salting and snow clearing will be confined to those footways where there is a high pedestrian usage.

The time taken to clear footways will depend on the quantity of snow, the prevailing conditions and the available resources.

Contact Details (LiveLink)

Multiple Contacts:
eMail: weather.team@wiltshire.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 456 0105
Out of hours:
Fax: 01225 713488
Postal Address:

Customer Services
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
BA14 8JN

In Person:

Last updated: 21 November 2016


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Fax: 01225 713488

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Customer Services
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
BA14 8JN