Winter Road Maintenance

Gritting routes Grit bins and heaps Winter maintenance policy

Request road gritting, snow clearing, or communal grit supplies

Ready Scotland Daily road treatment plans

Gritting routes

View our interactive map of winter gritting routes

Pre Treatment Routes- Introduction and map of all routes
Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands - Pre Treatment Routes
Oban, Lorn and the Isles - Pre Treatment Routes
Helensburgh and Lomond - Pre Treatment Routes
Bute and Cowal - Pre Treatment Routes
Priority Four routes - all areas
Pavement and footpath treatment routes - all areas

What is our policy for gritting priority routes?

The council is responsible for 1400 miles of local roads in Argyll and Bute with BEAR Scotland maintaining the trunk roads (A82, A83, A85 and A828) on behalf of Transport Scotland.

When freezing conditions are forecast the council deploys 33 gritters to treat over 750 miles of road, over 50% of the entire network. This is the equivalent of driving from Lochgilphead to Paris.

The routes are determined in order of priority, with resources focussed on the roads which carry the greatest amount of traffic. Our roads team works diligently to this strict programme.

Unless in an emergency it is highly unlikely that roads other than those shown on the map will be gritted.

If it is particularly icy, and if we have the resources to allow us to, we try and grit footways in the busy town centres, but only after we’ve gritted the roads.

Grit bins and heaps are placed at strategic locations throughout the area to allow communities to help themselves, and are refilled when possible. It is highly unlikely that we will be able to add to the existing network of grit bins, but we may be able to place grit heaps in isolated locations which become problematic this year

We would love to be able to treat every mile of local road and footway in the area but we simply don’t have the resources or manpower to do so.

Do you grit roads which are bus routes?     

Yes bus routes are classed as priority two routes, which means that additional sections of lower classification roads along with A and B class roads linking population centres are treated.

Are rural schools routes gritted?

Yes we do treat roads to the school gates but it is not possible to treat the start of every journey that reaches a school.

Does the council salt pavements?

Argyll and Bute Council doesn’t do any pre-treatment of pavements. We only salt in hazardous conditions when there is frost, ice, snow and it is persistent. In other words we react if there is any bad weather.

With hundreds of miles of pavements in Argyll and Bute salting every single one is simply not feasible – our efforts have to be concentrated on areas that will benefit the most people.

Footway treatment routes are prioritised as well. Priority one covers urban shopping areas and precincts. Priority two covers other areas of high pedestrian concentration like in the vicinity of hospitals and schools. Priority three covers steep hills in housing developments and in the vicinity of

Residential homes for the elderly. If hazards remain and we have resources available, treatment of other footways will be carried out after this.

Can it get too cold for salt to work?

Yes. Salt will work at temperatures down to minus 8-10 degrees Celsius. Below that salted roads will still freeze.
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. 

How many gritters does Argyll and Bute Council have and how much grit can they spread?

Argyll and Bute Council has a fleet of 33 vehicles capable of gritting and ploughing roads. We have another 8 secondary vehicles bringing the total number of snowploughs to 41. This year our fleet of vehicles has been upgraded with 19 brand new vehicles in place for the start of the winter.

We have 31 routes that require 31 frontline gritters and ploughs for pre treatment prior to freezing conditions.  We currently have 2 spare vehicles to cover breakdown and further vehicles available from contractors if needed.  The 2 spares together with the secondary vehicles will be used as backup in times of persistent bad conditions.

The capacity of salt these vehicles can carry varies between 2 and 11 tonnes. Two treatments of priority runs 1-3 and one of priority 4  uses 375 tonnes of salt which is equivalent to 20 eight wheeler lorry loads.

How does the salting process work?

We use six-millimetre crushed rock salt to melt ice or prevent it from forming on the roads. Usually, this is spread onto the road using a purpose-built machine, mounted on a lorry. The spreaders are designed to give an even distribution of salt across the road and spread the salt at a controlled rate. To prevent ice from forming, we spread salt at 10-15 grammes per square metre. But more is needed to melt ice which has already formed and the rate of spread is increased to 20-40 grammes per square metre to achieve this. The lorries also have fittings which enable a snow plough to be fitted when needed.

Are the gritters ready for use?    

Yes - they are all serviced, tested and calibrated. There was a dry run in October to make final checks to equipment, to drive routes and mount ploughs.

Which agencies are responsible for winter roads maintenance in Argyll and Bute?

Almost the entire road network in Argyll and Bute is looked after by the council. Bear Scotland look after the trunk roads in the area on behalf of Transport Scotland, the national transport body. Bear Scotland is responsible for the A82, A85, A828, and the A83.

Some councils have arrangements with farmers and plant hire companies to use their services at short notice for snow clearance work. Does Argyll and Bute Council?

We use local plant hire companies to supply labour and equipment such as diggers to clear snow to assist with this work. This includes farmers in some districts.

What advice can you give me on driving in winter?

You can find good advice in the Highway Code (this link takes you to the gov.uk website)

Grit Bins and heaps

What can people do for themselves?

We provide more than 300 grit bins in more urban areas and thousands of salt heaps throughout the area on routes that aren’t routinely treated – particularly in rural areas. This allows people to spread salt themselves on local pavements and roads.

All heaps and bins are replenished before this winter season. They will be restocked as resources are available. However, in times of persisting hazards resources will be stretched and it may not be possible to replenish all bins on request.

Can I order a grit bin if there is not one nearby?

The council only provides grit bins for roads it maintains. If it is a private road you are concerned about you would need to speak to the person responsible. Grit Bins and Salt can be purchased from various sources such as Builders Merchants for private use.

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

Being a good neighbour and clearing paths of ice and snow is the kind of practical step that most of us can take during cold weather. In fact, a helping hand with this can make all the difference for people may be unable to clear their own paths, or who need to use local paths to access services.

It's much easier to clear fresh snow, so make a start before people squash it down if you can.

I am worried in case someone is injured on a road or footway from which I have cleared snow or gritted. Can I be sued because of this?

Advice from the Scottish Government is provided you are careful, use common sense and don't do anything which would be likely to cause harm or distress to others, it is highly unlikely that you will be found responsible for any accidents. In fact, users of areas affected by snow and ice have responsibilities to be careful themselves.

Reporting roads faults ( including Winter conditions)

Normal Office Working Hours

Monday – Friday 09:00 -17:00 - Argyll and Bute Council ; Contact Centre tel. 01546 605514

Outside Normal Hours

17:00-09:00 overnight Monday – Thursday, Friday 17:00 – Monday 09:00, and Public Holidays
Roads and Lighting Faults ; R.A.L.F. , Tel. 0800 37 36 35