What resources does Pembrokeshire County Council have to deal with Winter Weather?
In addition to 10 gritting lorries which are used on the main gritting routes we have a further six lorries that can be used to spread salt and plough snow. We also have a rotary plough (snow blower) that is based in the Crymych area. We have three smaller ploughs that can be fitted to our tractors to be used on minor roads. We have five smaller towable salt spreaders which are used in pedestrianised areas and on estate roads, and for remoter rural areas we are trialling the use of two trailer gritters which are towed by tractors. To run this fleet we have over 60 trained drivers available together with a team of 13 mechanics.
How much salt does the Council have?
For the coming winter we have in excess of 8,000 tonnes of salt stored in three barns across the County. This is almost twice the quantity stored five years ago. Recently there has been considerable research into salt spread-rates and consequently we are now able to apply far less salt than previously without compromising safety. The additional stock compared to previous years and the reduction in spread rates should ensure that the Council now has sufficient resilience to cope with most weather scenarios. Generally salt does not lose its effectiveness and if kept under cover can be stored for years. There are also mutual aid agreements in place between highway authorities and the Welsh Government to share salt and other resources in severe circumstances. Although Pembrokeshire is surrounded by the sea this water does not contain salt in sufficient concentration to be usable for de-icing the roads.
Does the Council use contractors to help clear roads?
To supplement our own fleet we have arrangements in place with 34 local plant and agricultural contractors who have over 85 suitable machines available to assist with snow clearance. In addition to this resource we are aware that many farmers voluntarily carry out work to clear local roads for which we are very grateful.
How does the Council decide which roads will be subject to precautionary salting?
During cold weather we aim to salt as much of the County's road network as we can but, with just over 2,580km of highway, the resources available to carry out this work will inevitably have limits. We therefore prioritise the gritting routes so that they benefit as many roadusers as possible, and as cost effectively as possible. The primary gritting road network is made up of the routes joining the main centres of population in the County, together with some other roads serving strategic locations, such as hospitals and the oil and gas installations. In addition to their strategic importance primary routes will generally carry at least 1000 vehicles per day. This is based on the strategy used in Northern Ireland where a threshold of 1500 vehicles per day is applied.
Once we are confident that the primary network is safe we can then start to treat the other county roads. Initially we will carry out salting on the secondary network. These are mainly rural roads connecting the primary routes to the larger villages, and will have local services such as schools or be served by main public transport routes. Whenever freezing conditions are forecast to continue beyond 9am the secondary network should be salted. Salting of the secondary routes shall be carried out immediately following any morning action on the primary routes, but will only be carried out once all primary routes are secure. Full details of our primary and secondary routes are available.
At what time of day does the Council normally carry out precautionary salting?
Our salting times are dictated by the forecast time of freezing. From mid-October until mid-April we receive site-specific road weather condition forecasts covering all of Pembrokeshire. The daily 24 hour weather forecast is received at approximately 1pm every day. The duty officer will instruct for salting to be carried out approximately three hours before the forecast time of freezing. This ensures the optimum concentration of salt is present on the road surfaces at the time it is needed. If sub-zero temperatures are forecast to continue overnight supplementary morning salting may also be directed. Our forecasting systems are also available to other Council services.
How does the Council cope with emergencies and other special circumstances?
During severe weather we will work with the emergency services to assist in accessing remote or difficult locations. Co-ordination of these activities is carried out through our Emergency Planning Unit.
Will I be held legally responsible if I act as a good neighbour and clear pavements near my home?
Following the severe winter in 2010 the Government issued guidance in the form of the "Snow Code." There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It is unlikely you will be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Follow the snow code when clearing snow and ice safely. Further guidance is available at:
What is the Council's policy on Salt Bins?
In January 2010 in response to the huge volume of requests that were being received at that time it was decided that salt bins would no longer be provided by the Council. It was however decided that bins could be provided where requested by town or community councils. The cost of the new bins will be borne by the town or community councils with salt being provided by the County. The community will arrange volunteers to spread the salt and the County Council will arrange for refilling of the bins up to twice per winter subject to the necessary resources being available. This currently does not affect existing salt bins which will continue to be maintained by the Council.
What are the contact phone numbers if I want to report a problem?
Pembrokeshire County Council can be contacted by phoning 01437 764551 or out of hours on 0845 6015522.