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What is the best way to clear snow and ice from pavements?

During periods of prolonged heavy snowfall, pavements will only be cleared after the main carriageway routes have been cleared.

Pavements will be cleared in priority order as follows:

  1. Main shopping areas and pedestrian routes; and then
  2. Other important pavements and local shopping areas.

Clearing snow and ice from pavements

You can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. If an accident happens after clearing snow or ice outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces, it's highly unlikely that you would be sued as long as you are careful and use common sense to make sure that you don't make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before. People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.

Some practical advice to help you clear pavements safely



Start early

It is easier to remove fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it.

Do not use hot water

This will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.

Be a good neighbour

Some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths leading to their property or indeed the footway fronting their property. Snowfall and cold weather pose particular difficulties for them gaining access to and from their property or walking to the shops.

Clear a central pathway first

When clearing an area of snow make a pathway down the middle of the area first so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then you can shovel the snow from the centre to the sides.

Place shovelled snow sensibly

Consider where you are going to put snow before you start shovelling it, so that it does not block people's paths, or block drainage channels. This could shift the problem elsewhere.

Spread some salt on areas you have cleared

This will help to prevent any ice forming. Table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it. A few grams (a tablespoon) for each square metre you clear should work. The salt found in salting bins will be needed for keeping roads clear.

If there is no salt, use sand or ash

A little sand or ash is a reasonable substitute for salt. It will not have the same de-icing properties as salt but should offer grip under foot.

Take care on steps and steep gradients

Particular care and attention should be given to ensure snow and ice is removed. You might need to apply additional salt to these areas.

Use the sun to your advantage

Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any water with salt to stop it refreezing overnight.


This page was last updated on 19 October 2016