All the bright yellow trucks in the East Sussex Highways’ gritting fleet are now ‘green’, running on HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) fuel, and preparations are underway to ensure the 21 environmentally friendly gritters are ready when snow is forecast, or the road surface temperature falls near to or below freezing.
The vehicles and their drivers were put through their paces recently during Operation Snowdrop, the annual event which sees the gritters thoroughly checked and sent out on a trial run of the gritting routes around the county to test their readiness for wintery weather.
In addition, the Highways team has over 9,500 tonnes of salt stored in four depots across the county, and 766 grit bins countywide were refilled over the summer for use on public roads and footpaths.
Cllr Claire Dowling, lead member for transport and environment, said: “Preparations for the winter service start months in advance with salt stocks topped up and vehicles checked, so the Highways team is ready to spring into action when severe weather is forecast.
“The council is continuing its efforts to tackle climate change, and using green HVO fuel to run our gritting fleet is another step towards the council’s target to be carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest.
“Our gritting crews are on call 24/7 from now until the end of March to help keep the county’s roads free from snow and ice and they do a fantastic job ensuring East Sussex motorists keep moving during the winter months.”
The Highways team receive three detailed weather forecasts a day and the latest weather forecasting technology is used to decide when roads need to be gritted. Information about the routes being treated is available on the East Sussex Highways website and through social media.
Over the winter the gritters treat all A and B roads and some C roads – a total of 42 per cent of roads across the county, with over 1,252km of roads treated on a primary route gritting run.
While the gritters have yet to be called upon this year, last winter more than 3,000 tonnes of salt was used to treat 27,000 miles of roads.
Cllr Dowling added: “Our gritter drivers work tirelessly throughout the winter to keep roads as clear as possible, but even treated roads can still freeze at very cold temperatures. It’s important that drivers take extra care on the roads in wintry weather and consider whether their journey is necessary, particularly if the weather becomes severe.
“I would urge motorists to please check the weather forecast before travelling, and to make sure they are prepared for any emergency situations by keeping winter essentials in their car such as de-icer, a blanket, a shovel and a fully charged mobile phone.”
Information about steps drivers can take to stay safe and the East Sussex Highways winter service is available at www.eastsussexhighways.com/our-services/winter-service
Any problems on the roads can be reported online at www.eastsussexhighways.com/report-a-problem
For school closures visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/educationandlearning/schools/schoolclosures/ and disruption to other council services visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/news/