Because road conditions can be affected when the temperature starts to fall, we must take reasonable steps to:

  • Prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of vehicles and pedestrians on our roads and footways.
  • Help keep traffic flowing to and from our communities.
  • Alleviate any impact winter weather may have on the local economy.

During the winter months (mid-October to mid-April) we understandably receive a significant number of calls from residents wanting to know more about our gritting service. To help answer the most commonly asked questions we've:

By making this information easy to access online 24/7, we hope it will provide peace of mind when bad weather hits.

Frequently asked questions

  1. How many grit bins does Falkirk Council have?
  2. Why do we have so many grit bins?
  3. How do you decide where to put grit bins?
  4. My grit bin is empty, how do I get it refilled?
  5. Who is responsible for keeping grit bins full in new housing estates?
  6. Why would you remove a grit bin?
  7. What is a grit bin filled with and can I buy grit from the Council to use on my private property?
  8. How many gritters and winter vehicles do you have?
  9. How much grit can the vehicles hold?
  10. How much grit do you use during the winter months to treat roads in and around the Falkirk area?
  11. How do you decide which roads to grit?
  12. How do you decide which footways to grit?
  13. How do you decide which car parks to grit?
  14. Who is responsible for gritting roads in new housing estates?
  15. What distance of roads do you cover when gritting?
  16. Why haven't I seen a gritter?
  17. I've spotted a gritter that's not moving, why is that?
  18. Why do gritters spend so much time in and around Grangemouth?
  19. When I drive behind a gritter they aren't always spreading grit/salt. Why is that?
  20. Why do we spread grit on our roads?
  21. How do vehicles help the process?

Grit bins

How many grit bins does Falkirk Council have?

We have around 1,200 grit bins, a large number for the size of the area. 

These can be used by members of the public to treat public roads and footpaths. We aim to refill grit bins as required and have resources dedicated to this task in winter months. 

You can report an empty grit bin online.


Why do we have so many grit bins?

The large number of bins (1,200) reflects our desire to encourage self-help in areas that have a lower priority including minor roads and lesser important routes. 

Our interactive grit map highlights the grit bins we are responsible for.


How do you decide where to put grit bins?

Grit bins will be provided on non-priority 1 routes where:

  • There are difficult bends, inclines, junctions and turning areas that are particularly prone to icing.
  • They have been in place for a number of years for historic reasons or a special need has been recognised ie adapted housing, school crossing patrols, sheltered housing complexes, steps, and underpasses.
  • Where they can be easily refilled from a lorry parked alongside.

In areas that don't meet the above criteria a community grit bin may be provided at strategic locations agreed with community or resident's groups. We will consider installing up to 8 community grit bins per 1 sq kilometre.


My grit bin is empty, how do I get it refilled?

We try to refill grit bins as quickly as possible after periods of severe weather, but due to the large number of bins we have we'll only be able to release our employees to do this once treatment of priority roads and footpaths have been scaled down. Priority will then be given to higher altitude locations. 

If the grit bin in your street needs replenished please email grit.bins@falkirk.gov.uk.

Our interactive grit map highlights the grit bins we are responsible for.


Who is responsible for keeping grit bins full in new housing estates?

Housing developers are required as a condition of their Construction Consent to keep grit bins in networks that haven't been adopted by us. 

Our interactive grit map highlights the grit bins we are responsible for.


Why would you remove a grit bin?

We'd remove a grit bin:

  • if there is proof of misuse of the salt.
  • if a bin is vandalised (minimum of 2 separate occasions). A letter would be sent to residents after the first occasion.

We'd never remove a grit bin during severe weather without consulting local residents.


What is a grit bin filled with and can I buy grit from the Council to use on my private property?

Grit bins are filled with a mix of salt (rock salt) and grit that should be used on the public road network only and not on private areas like driveways etc. 

We do not sell salt; however, you can buy it from DIY stores, builder's merchants and other local retailers.


Gritters

How many gritters and winter vehicles do you have?

In our fleet we have:

  • 8 main line gritters plus 4 substitutes to cope with services and breakdowns.
  • Smaller gritters and other vehicles suitable for filling grit bins/hand gritting etc.
  • Mini tractors that are used for treating footways.
  • Additional vehicles are also available to support the fleet if required.

How much grit can the vehicles hold?

Capacity varies depending on the size of the vehicle. Our smallest vehicles hold around 1 tonne and our main line gritters can hold up to almost 9 tonnes.


How much grit do you use during the winter months to treat roads in and around the Falkirk area?

On average we use around 3,880 tonnes of grit during a normal winter.

Graph showing tonnage of salt used from 2014 - 2019

This winter we have invested in an automated gritting system. By using GPS to identify where the gritter is and the road speed and width, the system automatically calculates and dispenses the right amount of salt ensuring none is wasted. This system makes it safer for the driver and will save us a significant amount of money year-on-year.


How do you decide which roads to grit?

Whenever there is bad weather, we ensure priority 1 roads are gritted first and kept clear. These are main roads that are heavily used, bus routes, and roads essential to our emergency services.

Priority 1 roads include but are not limited routes to/from:

  • Fire stations
  • Police stations
  • Ambulance depots
  • Hospitals
  • Some clinics
  • Larger care homes
  • Larger schools

Priority 2 routes are of secondary importance. These routes are link roads and include main urban spine roads into housing and industrial areas where there are difficult bends or steep inclines and are particularly prone to icing.

Priority 3 routes are found in less populated rural areas and include lesser spine roads and larger cul-de-sacs within housing and industrial areas where there are difficult bends or steep inclines that are particularly prone to icing.

We also initially treat and keep clear priority pavements where the heaviest footfall is, including town centres.

Please see our grit map for information, including priority 1 and 2 routes, in your area.


How do you decide which footways to grit?

Whenever there is bad weather, we ensure priority 1 footways are gritted first and kept clear. These are footways with the highest pedestrian usage and include:

  • main town and village shopping areas
  • pedestrian precincts
  • main routes to urban schools
  • main access routes to: hospitals, clinics, identified public buildings, major sheltered housing complexes and other high-risk areas.

Priority 2 footways include main pedestrian routes in major housing developments and the main access routes to sheltered housing complexes and other establishments. Where day centres for older people or people with special needs have been identified as having high pedestrian footfall, these will be treated under this category.


How do you decide which car parks to grit?

We will grit Falkirk Council owned and surfaced car parks as part of our priority 1 road gritting routes only if snow is forecast and once the priority carriageway snow routes are cleared to an acceptable level.


Who is responsible for gritting roads in new housing estates?

Housing developers are required as a condition of their Construction Consent to grit new roads that haven't been adopted by the Council. Our grit map highlights the roads the Council does grit.


What distance of roads do you cover when gritting?

The Falkirk Council area has over 613 miles of roads in total.

We concentrate on treating the routes most heavily used (priority 1) that make up around 201 miles of road or 32% of our overall network length. That means the roads not treated require extra care when the weather is bad. 

Although gritting the roads will reduce ice, we cannot guarantee the routes that we do treat will always be ice free. To see our gritting routes visit our interactive grit map

Note that the Highway Code suggests that people should drive with care, even if the roads have been treated.


Why haven't I seen a gritter?

On average it takes a gritter 3 hours to treat its allocated route. Our gritters normally start gritting before the forecast says the road surface temperatures will reach freezing point.

If it snows, snow ploughs are attached to each of our main line gritters and 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.

When we get heavy snowfall, the gritters will be on the road continuously, and we will focus on keeping our priority 1 routes clear.


I've spotted a gritter that's not moving, why is that?

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. 

 Another reason may be that the vehicle may have broken down and is awaiting recovery.


Why do gritters spend so much time in and around Grangemouth?

Our depot and salt dome – which holds up to 8k tonnes of salt - are both based in Grangemouth. 

That means all our gritters set off, return to re-fuel, load up with more salt, and change drivers from the same area.


When I drive behind a gritter they aren't always spreading grit/salt. Why is that?

Each gritter has an allocated route to ensure the network is treated as efficiently as possible. Not all routes begin in Grangemouth (where our depot and salt dome is located) 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. Another reason may be that a gritter has used all its salt and is heading back to the depot for a refill.

It can also be deceptive. A driver can choose how the grit is targeted. Often grit is targeted to one side of a road then the other to ensure the whole carriage way is covered, so depending on where you are standing/looking it may look like grit isn't being dispensed when it is. 


Why do we spread grit on our roads?

Although it is called grit it's actually rock salt, which lowers the freezing point of moisture on road surfaces and stops ice forming and causes 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, which means if snow falls it won't freeze on the road surface and can be ploughed/churned off by vehicular movements.


How do vehicles help the process?

Vehicular motion helps work the salt into the ice and frost.

When snow falls on top of salt it begins to melt the snow from beneath. Add in vehicular movement and 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 is 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.


If you have an enquiry about our treatments, please contact us:

Development Services
Abbotsford House
Davids Loan
Falkirk
FK2 7YZ

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