The winter maintenance plan for 2023/24 winter has been agreed at committee

Aberdeen’s roads and pavements winter gritting plan with an anticipated spend of £1.57million was agreed by councillors at Net Zero, Environment and Transport committee today.

A report to committee about the Roads Winter Service Plan said if winter conditions are more severe additional budget would be spent - the total spend for the previous three winters was £1.962million in 2023/23, £1.37m in 2021/22, and £2.1m in 2020/21.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “As always, we hope this winter will be a mild one. If it is not, the Council is ready for cold, icy and snowy weather. Although winter is still some time away, it is never too early to think about getting ready for winter. Applications for the one-tonne community salt bags will open on 18 September.”

Aberdeen City Council Net Zero, Environment and Transport committee vice-convener Councillor Miranda Radley said: “It is good to hear that our gritting services are ready for the oncoming winter, whatever the weather might throw at us. We know that our staff cannot be everywhere at once but they do go above and beyond to ensure the city’s key roads and pavements are kept gritted according to the agreed prioritised plan.”

The report said it is not feasible to salt every road, pavement, and cycleway around the city at the same time so they are being prioritised, with main routes given top priority. Roads are split into primary, secondary, and other routes, and pavements/cycleways are split into priority one and two routes.

The report to committee said effects of climate change continue to present challenges continuing from the last few winters, significant geographical variations in simultaneous weather have been observed with heavy rainfall causing flooding concerns to the east of the city while snowfall persists in the west.

These competing demands present complex logistical challenges and there seems to be a pattern of weather behaviour establishing whereby temperatures rise during the day, often accompanied by rain, before falling rapidly through late afternoon and evening times. This has had an impact effect on winter treatment. 

Last winter, there were a significant number of winter treatment days where daytime rain washed off salt spread during early morning grits. Then when temperatures dropped through late afternoon and into the evenings, there was a requirement to re-treat routes covered earlier in the day. This repeated running of routes coupled with a high number of winter treatment days led to a high level of salt use. During dry conditions, a route may only require to be gritted once per day, and sometimes one treatment may last multiple days where there is no wash off.

The report to committee said salt stock levels will be taken back up to about 11,500 tonnes - 18,642t was used last year - and this stock can be topped up with regular programmed deliveries throughout winter.

There are currently more than 900 salt bins throughout the city based on historic requests and the committee agreed to continue the policy of not issuing any additional salt bins but to further promote the issue of one tonne bags of salt for community use. 

The one-tonne community salt bags are given to residents or community groups willing to carry out self-help winter treatment. 
In addition, there are 20 large capacity grit bins from which the public can collect salt in locations such as supermarket or community centre car parks.

The report to committee said staff processes and procedures developed for the pandemic will be used again if required.

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