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Winter Gritting

During the period that runs from mid-October through to April there is a possibility of the authorities highway and footway network being affected by cold wintery conditions. Hazards can include:

  • Hoar Frost
  • Ice
  • Hail
  • Snow
  • Freezing Rain

In the presence of any of these hazards, roads and footways can become dangerous to pass and therefore each year, Neath Port Talbot CBC put in place a Winter Service Operation Plan which determines the operational strategy for dealing with such conditions.

We treat the highway through using dry rock salt and salting is based on the road surface temperature when it is expected to fall below 1°C with forecast frost or icy conditions.

High priority roads take into account gradients and usage and include the following: 

  • Motorways and trunk roads
  • 'A' and 'B' roads carrying industrial traffic, access to hospitals, fire stations and emergency centres
  • Other 'C' and Class III roads connecting villages
  • Access to key sources of fuel and food
  • Bus routes (including school bus routes)
  • Industrial estate roads
  • Through routes in built up areas
  • Any other routes deemed necessary at the time

More information: Winter Service Operational Plan

Our gritting routes are treated before icy conditions are forecast. There are four precautionary salting routes which are named ‘High route’ and ‘Low route’ based on topography and location within the county borough:

  • High Route 1- Resolven, Tonna, Cimla, Afan Valley.
  • High Route 2 – GCG, Ystalyfera, Crynant, Banwen, Glynneath.
  • Low Route 1 - Port Talbot, Margam, Aberavon, Baglan, Briton Ferry, Neath.
  • Low Route 2 - Fabian Way, Llandarcy, Skewen, Bryncoch, Pontardawe.

Routes will continue to be treated during periods of prolonged ice.

When snow is forecast, we will use a risk based approach to prioritise reopening roads. This will start with critical roads such as:

  • major industrial traffic
  • maintaining access to hospitals, fire stations and emergency centres.

We will aim to clear extra roads and footpaths when resources permit.

As well as being updated with regular national forecasts, we have five weather stations, consisting of two fixed road outstations at Abernant and Banwen, allowing data to be received directly by the team.

In addition, we have installed remote sensor units, with supporting deep and surface temperature probes, based at Melin Court, Afan Valley and Kenfig Industrial Estate.  These weather stations provide live weather information to the Authority’s forecaster.

Pre-treatment salting is then carried out on the identified routes across Neath Port Talbot prior to the forecast time for frost or icy conditions.

If icy conditions continue, the routes then continue to be treated as and when deemed necessary. This precautionary treatment takes approximately 3 hours 30 minutes to complete

We don't grit pavements or cycle routes before snow or ice is forecast other than mixed use pedestrian and vehicular areas such as town centres. However in periods of persistent icy conditions or snow fall we will treat busy footways / pavements. These include town centre pedestrian areas and strategic footways near schools, hospitals etc.

We do not salt over level crossings because this can cause signal faults. In Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen for example, treatment will be undertaken up to the stop line either side of the level crossing as per the Network Rail guidance.

 

We have 6 spreader vehicles covering the 4 main winter routes and a dedicated vehicle for the A465. The 6th vehicle is a reserve vehicle.

In 2020, the public named five of these vehicles during a competition. Winter gritting fleet staff selected the winning names:

  • Justin Non-sliperic,
  • Gareth Spreadwards,
  • Richard Brrrrrton,
  • Bonnie Tyre and
  • Michael Gritter Ma-Sheen.

Vehicles cover routes appropriate to the names. For example, the Michael Gritter Ma-Sheen High Route 2 which covers Cwmtwrch where Michael Sheen now has a home.

We have arrangements with other Councils to share supplies if stocks get low. We also share gritting equipment if weather is particularly severe in some areas and not others.

Before the winter season we liaise with all neighbouring authorities to confirm cross-boundary salting arrangements. These include:

  • Carmarthenshire CC,
  • Powys CC,
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC,
  • Swansea CC and
  • Bridgend CBC 

Our salt levels are under constant review as the Welsh Local Government Association recommends salt stocks are replenished before the winter season to levels of 1.5 times the average salt usage over the past 6 years.

We have recently built a salt barn at the Service Response Centre, The Quays. This facility has a storage capacity of 7500 tonnes of rock salt for use on County roads.

Always consider your own health and safety and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. If f you have any health problems, you should also consider asking for help from neighbours.

The department for transport have published the following advice when you clear snow and ice:

  • do it early in the day - it’s easier to move fresh, loose snow
  • don’t use water - it might refreeze and turn to black ice
  • use salt if possible - it will melt the ice or snow and stop it from refreezing overnight (but don’t use the salt from salting bins as this is used to keep roads clear)
  • you can use ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt - it will provide grip underfoot
  • pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways - using more salt may help

The department for transport advise it’s unlikely that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully.

Grit bins are stocked on a rolling basis throughout the winter season.

Requests for new grit boxes need to be made directly to your local Councillor.

You must use the salt bin to help with snow and ice on public roads and footpaths. It should not be used for private driveways, car parks or other non-public areas.

Salt for private roads and properties can be purchased from local builders' merchants, who will normally deliver this to you.

Placement of salt bins are to be used during periods of severe weather. Salt bins are filled before the beginning of the winter season, are monitored and can be replenished when necessary.

A request to have a grit box added to a nearby street must be made to your local councillor.  You can find details of your local councillor to request a bin using our 'Find your Councillor' page

However, you must use the salt bin to help with snow and ice on public roads and footpaths and it should not be used for private driveways, car parks or other non-public areas.

Salt for private roads and properties can be purchased from local builders' merchants, who will normally deliver this to you.

Many councils including NPT have set up arrangements with neighbouring authorities to share supplies if stocks get low and gritting equipment if weather is particularly severe in some areas and not others.

This also means prior to the winter season we liaise with all neighbouring authorities including Carmarthenshire CC, Powys CC, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, CC Swansea and Bridgend CBC to confirm cross-boundary salting arrangements.

Our salt levels are constantly under review as the Welsh Local Government Association recommends that salt stocks are replenished prior to the winter season to levels of 1.5 times the average salt usage over the past 6 years.

The authority recognises the importance of these minimum required levels, which resulted in the construction of a salt barn located at the Service Response Centre, The Quays. The Highways and Drainage Section manages this facility which has a storage capacity of 7500 tonnes of rock salt to be used on County roads.