Winter maintenance policy


  • Priority 1 includes all principal roads and important B Class, C Class and unclassified routes as approved by Members
  • Priority 2 includes the remainder of B Class and appropriate C class and unclassified roads as approved by Members (note: not all remaining C Class roads will be Priority 2)
  • Priority 3 the remainder of the network including estate roads


Winter Maintenance involves treating the highway to:

  1. prevent ice from forming known as "precautionary salting" or "pre-salting"
  2. melt ice and snow already formed, "post-salting"

Priority 1 routes will receive preferential treatment in all conditions. Pre-salting will only be carried out on Priority 1 routes unless the forecast is for extreme winter conditions in which case pre-salting of Priority 2 may be considered. Treatment will be completed within the times stated in this policy.

Pre-salting will normally be completed on an evening except where precipitation is likely to occur overnight. Where an evening pre-salt takes place with no precipitation some Priority 2 post-salting may take place the following morning subject to resources. If precipitation occurs after an evening pre-salt then Priority 1 post- salting will take place the following morning before any Priority 2 treatment is considered.

In widespread freezing and wet conditions Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes will be treated, as resources permit, but with preference to Priority 1 routes.

Priority 3 routes will not normally receive treatment unless freezing conditions persist for more than 72 hours. Treatment of Priority 3 routes in advance of the 72 hour rule in certain weather conditions will be allowed.


The majority of Priority 1 routes should be treated by 7am with the remainder by 7:30am, subject to changes in forecast and/or weather conditions.

In general, treatment will not take place between 11pm and 5am, however specific conditions may require attention.

Priority 2 and 3 routes will be treated as soon as practicable after Priority 1 routes have been completed.

Priority 2 routes are treated every morning (when the weather requires it) after the Priority 1 routes are completed unless the prevailing conditions and the forecast in the judgment of the Local Area Manager renders further treatment unnecessary.

For guidance this would mean that, in general, Priority 2 routes will be treated unless conditions were improving and any ice/frost would thaw before the treatment of the route is completed.


Category 1 footways will be post salted in exceptional condition before 9an with the remaining footways and cycling network being treated in priority order subject to available resources. Cycleways, not contiguous with carriageways, will not be treated.

Snow clearance priority


  • light snow (up to 25mm) - as pre-salting
  • moderate snowfall (25mm to 100mm)
    • Priority 1 routes passable in three hours
    • Priority 2 routes will be cleared when conditions allow resources to be freed from Priority 1 routes
  • heavy snowfall (over 100mm) 
    • in these circumstances available resources including reserves, contractors and farmers will be mobilised to keep Priority 1 routes passable and to maintain at least one route to all centres of population

It should be noted that continuous snowfall and strong winds will influence snow clearing operations considerably and will therefore delay completion times.


When conditions and resources permit snow will be cleared from shopping streets, then heavily used footways (main access routes) then other footways in prolonged conditions.

Unadopted roads

The County Council will not carry out winter maintenance on un adopted roads.

However, specific requests from District and Parish Councils may be considered only if resources are available and all relevant costs are paid by them.

Target spread rates of salt

  • precautionary salting
    • salt stored under cover 10g/m2 - 20g/m2
    • salt stored in the open 15g/m2 - 20g/m2
  • post treatment salting, all methods of storage
    • prior to snowfall, dependent upon forecast conditions 20g-40g/m2
    • snow already on the road - depths in excess of 30mm  ploughing and salting (up to 40g/m2)
  • hard packed snow and ice
    • air temperature above -8C successive salting at 20-40g/m2
    • air temperature below -8C gritting with single size abrasive aggregate not exceeding 6mm or 5mm sharp sand


No policy has been approved for snowploughing operations. Reference should be made to ICE design and practice guide, highway winter maintenance section 2 and UK Roads Liaison Group and Winter Service Guidance for Local Authority practitioners.

Snow Fences

Snow fences are not in use in this County but powers to erect fences and secure easements are provided in the Highways Act 1980, covered by Sections 102, 249, 251, 291 and 292. For guidance in design and location of snow fences references should be made to TRRL Report LR 362 “snow fences".

Salt bins / salt heaps

Salt bins or salt heaps will only be provided in accordance with the criteria set out in the salt bin / heap assessment form.

Salt bins or salt heaps will be spaced a minimum of 40 metres apart and contain a maximum of 0.5 tonnes of salt/grit.

A salt bin will be provided at the main access to each school which is not on a priority 1 treatment route.

The County Council will consider provision of salt bins at locations not meeting the criteria, where salt bins and their replenishment is funded by another local authority.

Care must be taken to avoid locating the bins where they may be used for the disposal of litter or act as litter traps.

Extreme weather protocol

In extreme or prolonged severe weather conditions, if it is necessary to conserve salt stocks then treatments may be modified as follows:

Treatment and snow clearance

  • Priority 1 - use 50% salt and 50% sand/grit mix – no reduction in treatment length
  • Priority 2 - use 50% salt and 50% sand/grit mix – route lengths may be reduced, however at least one route to each community will be maintained
  • Priority 3 - use sand or grit only roads will be treated as resources permit

The most minor rural lanes and estate roads are unlikely to receive treatment/ snow clearance in such conditions as resources focus on the important traffic routes and providing community access.

Priority 2 routes may be subject to a two direction “plough only” followed by a “plough and treat” using a 50% salt 50% sand/grit mix. Similar treatments can be adopted on Priority 3 routes will use a 100% sand/grit mix.


Priority 2 routes will be treated no more than once a day except in exceptional circumstances when directed by the Head of Highway Operations.


Treatments will be modified with a 50% salt and 50% sand/grit mix used on Category 1 footways, whilst other footways may be treated a sand /grit mix only. Many footways will remain untreated and communities can utilize the County Council’s Community Engagement Scheme and/or clear footways taking note of the Government’s “Snow Code”.

Salt bins/ salt heaps

Salt bins and heaps will generally be stocked with 10% salt and 90% grit mix.

A 50% salt and 50% grit mix may be used in certain circumstances, for example where the facility affords the sole access to a community.

Restocking of salt bins and heaps during prolonged periods of extreme weather may need to be restricted to conserve salt and could only be carried out on request, not as a matter of routine.

In extreme circumstances it may be necessary to restrict this further in which case only salt bins or heaps at critical locations will be replenished.

Assessment form for provision of a salt bin / heap

Actual Location of Salt Bin

Date of Assessment

Assessed By:



Standard Scores

Assessed Actual Score


Greater than 1 in 10

1 in 10 to 1 in 30

Less than 1 in 30





Severity of Bend








Close proximity to and falling towards and away from a junction

Heavily trafficked road

Moderately trafficked road

Lightly trafficked road

Not falling towards






Assessed traffic density at peak times






Number of premises for which this is the only access

Over 50

20 – 50

0 – 20





Pedestrian Movements








Road Priority

Priority 1 route

Priority 2 route

Priority 3 route

- 300





This needs to be over 100 to pass