We all need to make sure we’re prepared in case of extreme weather. At Fife Council, we have staff working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week over the winter season who are dedicated to keeping Fife moving, whatever the weather.
For the areas we can't reach in icy and snowy weather, we provide grit bins to assist the local community (on a self-help basis). This includes roads and footpaths which are not on Primary Routes or Priority 1 and 2 footways. Bins are also provided at known trouble spots, including steep hills and sharp bends. If your grit bin is empty, you can request a refill online by clicking here. We will normally be out within five working days.
Fife Council has a statutory responsibility, under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, to take such steps as it considers reasonable to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles over public roads. (*“Roads” include carriageways, car parks, footways, cycleways and pedestrian areas).
The Winter Gritting and Snow Clearing Services Policy is the means by which Fife Council seeks to provide an effective and efficient winter gritting and snow clearing service, to negate the effects of bad weather and road conditions which have the potential of causing delays and posing hazards for all road users.
Winter gritting and snow clearing involves treating roads in order to:
- prevent ice from forming (pre-salting)
- melt ice and snow (post-salting)
- remove snow (ploughing)
Decisions on whether or not to act must be taken with due care and on reasonable grounds. The object is to provide a winter gritting and snow clearing service which will, as far as is reasonably practical, within financial constraints and resource limitations:
- permit the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians on the more important parts of the network
- seek to minimise delays and accidents attributable to weather conditions
- take cognisance of the environmental impact of the salting process
All roads on the List of Roads network are treated as follows:
- There are 21 Primary Gritting Routes covering Fife. These amount to 59% of the Fife Road Network and can be viewed on the gritting routes map.
- Fife Council’s designated Strategic and Traffic Sensitive routes. Principal roads (A Class roads). Roads leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations and power stations. Slip roads (excluding trunk roads) approaches to interchanges, classified registered urban bus routes, access to bus stations and railway stations.
- Classified roads (B Class) Unclassified registered urban and school bus routes. Important commuter routes. Access to important industrial and military establishments. Known trouble spots.
During exceptionally severe weather the Council will treat designated Snow Routes as a first priority, namely designated strategic and traffic sensitive routes, Principal Roads (A class), roads leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, Mossmorran to Braefoot Bay Access on A921, slip roads (excluding trunk roads) approaches on A92, classified registered urban bus routes, access to bus and railway stations. Resources will be concentrated on the Snow Routes to ensure essential communication links are maintained. Other primary routes maybe treated for snow, in extreme conditions, once the snow routes have been attended too.
Other commuter routes, main feeder routes, shopping centres. Access to isolated villages and hamlets together with main food supply routes.
All Other Routes
Roads serving limited numbers of properties carrying access traffic, (residential loop roads and cul-de-sacs) including unadopted roads and roads subject to construction consents not yet added to List of Roads but along which properties are occupied.
Motorways and Trunk Roads as defined by the Scottish Government within the boundary of Fife are the responsibility of Transport Scotland. The gritting routes for your area, can be viewed on the gritting routes map.
Gritting Roads - Standards
Primary Routes are given a 24-hour service for the pre-salting and clearance of snow and ice formations with standby crews operating during the core winter period the nearest Friday to the beginning of November to the last Friday in March. Pre-salting treatment is given whenever judged appropriate by the Winter Manager.
It is expected that all Primary Routes will be treated within 3 hours of operations starting.
School bus routes within Primary Routes will not be treated at weekends, in-service days or on holidays. Treatment will recommence at midday on the day prior to returning i.e., midday Sunday for a return on a Monday.
Secondary and all other routes may be treated for ice and snow in order of priority once Primary routes have been satisfactorily attended to and subject to available resources. However, should conditions be such that a continuous treatment of Primary Routes is necessary to allow for movement of traffic, then Secondary Routes will be treated concurrently with Primary Routes. Treatment of ice formation will only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances of thick and persistent frost lasting for several days.
Treatment of Secondary and all other routes will not take place out with the normal working weekday (Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 4pm, Fri 7.30am to 3pm) other than in exceptional circumstances where:
- widespread snow conditions exist, or
- equipment and manpower resources permit, and
- the requirements of Primary routes have been met
It is the intention that Secondary and all other routes should not remain impassable to heavy vehicular traffic for more than 48 hours.
Secondary and all other routes will only be attended to once all other priorities have been treated. However, in practical terms, these routes are generally most effectively treated on a street by street and area by area basis as there may be little differentiation between individual priorities, particularly in urban areas.Back To Top
Footways on the List of Roads network are classified as follows:
Main town shopping areas and around centres of high pedestrian usage e.g. pedestrian precincts, hospitals, clinics, main access routes to schools, sheltered housing, residential homes and day centres for the elderly. Main pedestrian routes linking transport interchanges – railways, bus stations etc.
Busy urban areas e.g. other shopping centres and around public buildings and other commercial areas not included within priority 1. Main pedestrian routes in major housing developments.
Rural and less used urban footways. Un-adopted footways and/or footways subject to construction consents.
There are over 2200 km of footways in Fife and given the financial constraints and resource limitations it is not possible to treat all footways simultaneously. Subsequently it is important that the priorities are strictly adhered to. Standby crews will be provided for Priority 1 footways at weekends and on public holidays from the start of December until mid-March.
The treatment of footways will usually be confined to the removal of snow deposits. However, footways adjacent to Primary Routes will gain some “collateral” benefit from the 24hr coverage for salting treatment to these carriageways. In exceptional circumstances e.g. where thick and persistent frost exists (24-48 hours) and is expected to continue, salting treatment may be undertaken on footways in priority order and where resources permit.
For maximum effectiveness and network coverage within available resources, the normal approach to carriageways with two footways will be to clear at least one footway on such routes (within any priority level) before moving on to lower priorities.
The treatment of Priority 1 Footways will not take place out with the normal working weekday (Mon – Thurs 7.30am to 4pm, Fri 7.30am to 3pm) other than in exceptional circumstances where: -
- widespread snow conditions exist, or
- where thick and persistent frost exists (24-48 hours) and is expected to continue
Priority 2 and 3 Footways will normally be restricted to the normal working hours (7.30am to 4pm) Monday to Friday. A decision to extend this coverage will be taken by the Winter Manager as conditions dictate and resources permit.Back To Top
Fife Council provides grit bins to assist the local community (on a self-help basis) on minor housing estate roads and footpaths which are not on Primary Routes or Priority 1 and 2 footways. Bins are also provided at known trouble spots, including steep gradients and sharp bends.
Grit bins are re-filled on an ad-hoc basis throughout the course of the winter season e.g. customer request. If your grit bin is empty you can request a refill online by using the Report a road or pavement fault form or by phoning 03451 55 00 11. Requests will be actioned normally within 5 working days and bins are filled with a 1:3 mixture of salt and sand/grit.
Grit Heaps - During extended severe weather conditions, the Winter Manager will provide grit heaps (subject to available resources) as requested by elected members, or representatives of Community Councils. These will only be used in severe winter weather conditions to support a local body as a Community Council in seeking to play a facilitating role for local community efforts on minor roads and footways that have not yet been treated. To improve the issue, delivery and site management of the grit heap, these will be issued in 1T builder's sacks to agreed locationsBack To Top
Frequently Asked Questions
Although it's called grit, it's actually rock salt. It lowers the freezing point of moisture on road surfaces and stops ice forming, causing existing ice or snow to melt.
Generally, on the roads, salt loses its effectiveness once the temperature falls below -7 degrees centigrade so pre-salting the road forms a separating layer. This means if snow falls, it won't freeze on the road surface and can be ploughed/churned off by vehicular movements.Back To Top
We receive a forecast each lunchtime, specifically for Fife, giving us forecast road surface temperatures. This allows us to decide when to send out gritting crews at a time before the predicted temperatures are due to fall close to, or below, freezing point.
Our gritters normally start gritting before the forecast says the road surface temperatures will reach freezing point.Back To Top
It takes approximately three hours to cover all the primary gritting routes across Fife, which is around 56% of our total road network.Back To Top
Each driver has a designated route and are told what time to treat the routes and how much grit to spread on the carriageway. This is based on the weather forecast and predicted road surface temperatures provided to us. Any issues which the driver may encounter during his route are assessed, and further action can be taken if required.
Remember, our drivers are sometimes travelling out on the roads in very large heavy vehicles when gritting; no one has treated the roads for them.Back To Top
Our total road network is almost 2600 km long so it's impossible to treat all roads at once. We do not have the resources to do this.Back To Top
Gritting usually takes place in the evening or early in the morning. Early morning grits can start as early as 4am, when most people are still in bed.Back To Top
This could be for a few reasons:
- It’s used up its salt and is travelling back to the depot to refill
- It could be travelling to the start of a gritting route or between sections which it has to grit
- It could have a problem with the grit spreading equipment and be travelling back to the depot for repairs
The gritter only needs to drive along one side of the road, as the spreading mechanism is designed to deliver the grit across the full width of the road.Back To Top
Apart from a vehicle which may have broken down and is awaiting recovery, our drivers need to have a break from driving – it's the law. So if you do spot one of our gritters that has not moved for some time, that's probably the reason why.Back To Top
Each gritter has an allocated route to ensure the network is treated as efficiently as possible. Not all routes begin at a depot, which means a gritter won't start spreading until it reaches the start of its allocated route.
From time to time, a gritter may travel on a previously gritted route, so the spinner will be switched off.Back To Top
A gritter has just gone past the top of the road but not come into my road. Can it not just come into my road on its way past?
When we treat lower category roads, the aim is to treat as many roads as we can. Treating every street as we go will slow down the process and would make our response less effective.Back To Top
If there's a real emergency and we are requested to provide assistance by the emergency services, then we'll respond.Back To Top
If it starts to snow and begins to lie then snow ploughs are fitted to each of our front line gritters. They will be out on the road continuously, but it can take 3 to 4 hours before they cover the same point twice as ploughing takes longer.
We may also fit snow ploughs when snow is forecast, so there may be occasions where you will see snow ploughs fitted on a gritter but it isn’t snowing.Back To Top
We do not have resources to deal with this when weather is extremely bad and it is not practical to expect the driver to stop.Back To Top
When snow falls on top of salt, the snow starts to melt from beneath. When vehicle movement goes over it, the process speeds up. However, the first vehicles over the snow will actually compress the snow into ice, much the same way as a snowball is created. If there's little traffic, or very slow-moving traffic, then a layer of ice may form on top of the road until the salt works its way up from below.Back To Top
This is similar to a road which has already been salted, only this time the salt is spread on top of the snow and it melts the snow from the top. Depending on the depth of snow, this alone may take some time. Vehicular movement helps work the salt into the snow and quickens up the process. That’s why snow on a well used road will clear quicker than a lesser used roadBack To Top
Our priority is to give children and staff access to schools and our janitorial teams work to prepare a clear pathway in and out of the school building.
Wherever possible teams will then grit other areas of the playground, but this will depend on availability of resources at individual schools.Back To Top
We don’t routinely pre salt footpaths or pavements. We have to prioritise major roads rather than pavements to prevent the most serious accidents. Gritting of pavements will only be carried out when snow or severe icy conditions are forecast with pavements in main shopping areas and busy urban areas treated as a priority.Back To Top
A road or pavement that has been treated with grit can still be icy in parts. It's advisable to use common sense and only travel (or choose not to) when necessary.Back To Top
Householders and businesses are encouraged to clear snow and ice from public areas near their properties during periods of severe winter weather. We also encourage people to assist neighbours who may not be able to clear snow and ice themselves.Back To Top
This can be logged on our online form, but be aware that the treatment priorities set by us will be followed and it may be some time before your request can be attended to.Back To Top
We do not have the resources to respond to individual requests to grit roads. If you need advice or information on the support available for a vulnerable adult, please contact Social Care direct on 03451 55 15 03 or contact the out of hours service on 03451 55 00 99.Back To Top
We cannot provide a specific level of winter service for one category of the public. We realise that the public have a need to get out and about, but in doing so they must assess the current weather conditions and determine whether the journey they are about to make is really necessary and is it safe to do so. Our elderly population in particular fall into this category. Any journey, either on foot or by car, should be considered carefully before being taken.
We encourage you to help yourself and your family and neighbours. A family member can run an errand or maybe asking a neighbour for help or assistance.Back To Top
Yes. Grit bins are usually placed at locations which are off the main gritting routes. They are for community self-help, particularly during severe weather when it might be a few days before we can provide assistance.Back To Top
Travel to the road conditions and make yourself aware of the primary gritting network and try and use these routes if at all possible.Back To Top