We can not grit all of Norfolk’s 6,125 mile (9,857 km) road network because of the time it would take and the cost involved.
Priorities for gritting roads have been established on the basis of the route hierarchy and level of use. The main roads will be gritted before other routes.
Our three hour gritting runs cover a total of approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 km) on A, B and some C class roads - commuter and major bus routes and as far as is possible one route into all villages. Some footways in the pedestrian areas of central King’s Lynn, central Great Yarmouth and central Norwich are also treated as priority.
Highways England treats 143 miles of trunk roads including the A11 and A47.
This map indicates the planned priority gritting routes for this season, however road users should always exercise caution and drive to the conditions. In addition, slight changes to the routes may occur (eg where there are road closures). If you are travelling in cross county border areas, drive to the conditions that you experience as roads in neighbouring authorities may not have been treated at the same time as ours.
In severe conditions snow clearing work is concentrated on A roads then B roads and then the remainder of the priority network. Clearing and removing snow from the highway depends upon the amount of snow and the conditions at any particular time. For light snowfalls treatment will normally be by continuous gritting.
When snow is over 30mm deep treatment will normally be by gritting and snow ploughing at the same time. If snow is over 150mm deep then ploughing is often ineffective and earth-moving equipment is used.
We update residents on our gritting plans via local radio, Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #norfolkwinter, and we encoure others in Norfolk to do the same.
Our policy on which roads to treat on a priority basis has been developed over a number of years and is reviewed annually.
Whilst it is unlikely that any additional roads will be added to our current schedules, if you feel you have an exceptional case for amending them, you should contact your Parish or Town Clerk.
For more details read our Winter Maintenance Policy.
There are over 1,800 grit bins around Norfolk, which are for use on the public highway and footways only.
Our grit bins will be filled by early December and refilled by February if necessary.
We urge people to use the grit sparingly. A tablespoon of salt will treat an area of 1m2.
If you think that a location would benefit from a grit bin, contact your local Town or Parish Council.
Last winter many people helped keep pavements and public spaces around their homes clear of snow. However, many people were put off doing so because of fears of being sued.
It is extremely unlikely that someone who has attempted to clear snow in a careful manner will be sued or held legally responsible if someone slips or falls on ice or snow at their property.
People should not be deterred from performing a socially responsible act, such as clearing a path of snow, by the fear that someone may subsequently get injured slipping on the path.
Though the person clearing the snow does have responsibilities when doing the job, mainly to ensure that they are not making the area more dangerous by allowing it to refreeze, it is important to note that those walking on snow and ice have responsibilities themselves. A common sense approach is encouraged.
Rock salt is not harmful to pets, wildlife or the environment, and the Environment Agency have approved use of it as a de-icing product.
Rock salt is not classified as dangerous for supply or use and has been the primary de-icing material used on roads in Europe and North America for the last 60 years. No significant hazardous effects have been identified. Under the 2006 EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Directive which seeks to control hazardous chemicals, rock salt is exempted because it is a naturally occurring mineral.
Salt is already present in the environment and animals will often search it out for its beneficial properties – which is why salt licks are used for many domestic animals. However, eating a large amount of salt would make most animals (including humans) unwell.
Rock salt, which we use, should not be confused with antifreeze and de-icing agents containing ethylene glycol which are extremely toxic to cats and dogs.
Although most pavements in Norfolk are not gritted as standard, we do treat some of the pedestrianised areas and main pavements in the centre of Norwich and some pedestrianised areas in the centre of King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth as part of our priority routes.
After a prolonged period of snow we will treat other pavements on a priority basis.
We generally do not treat cycle paths, although some that are adjacent to treated roads on our priority network may get the benefit of salt that has been used to treat the roads.
We stock salt in 1,800 grit bins across the county which people are free to use in public spaces such as pavements, cycle paths and roads.
See our map for our priority gritting roads and pavements and grit bins.
Salt is used to prevent ice forming.
It does this by reducing the freezing point of water already on the road surface.
However, even when roads are treated there is no guarantee they will be completely clear of ice or snow. In severe cold weather (below approximately -7'C) even salt will not prevent the roads from icing.
Rain can also wash salt off roads leaving them prone to re-icing. If freezing follows rain, salting will normally start after the rain has stopped to avoid salt being washed away. However temperatures may fall as much as 5 degrees in an hour and roads can freeze before a gritter can get to them.
Drivers should also be aware of ‘Dawn Frost’ where early morning dew combined with a drop in temperature can result in a frost forming on road surfaces. It is impossible to forecast with any accuracy where and when this may occur.
It is therefore important to remember that even treated roads can still have icy patches and drivers should remain vigilant, especially when road frosts follow rain on the roads.