Dorset And Hampshire Ready For Winter

Hampshire and Dorset County Council's say they are ready for a cold winter and have stocked up on salt to grit the roads with.

Last year was a busy year for Dorset with the gritters making over 100 runs to keep the county’s roads clear. 

That’s a third more than in an average year. 

The gritter routes have been planned and there’s a plentiful supply of rock salt ready to be used. 

The county council is responsible for more than 2,500 miles of urban and rural roads, with a winter focus on the core roads of 650 miles which are the ones used by 80 per cent of vehicles.

A daily, detailed local forecast informs the decisions on what action needs to be taken and when is the most effective time to spread the salt. 

The gritters will often go out several times, night and day to ensure that the main routes are kept as clear as possible. There are 22 gritting routes in two networks – priority and community. 

The County Council say they have a fleet of 26 gritters in six depots across the county. 

All gritters can be fitted with snow ploughs if needed. 

The county council uses 6mm rock salt, commonly called grit, to treat its roads. It works by lowering the freezing point of water. It combines with the ice and melts it. 

This reaction stops working at temperatures around -9C. The salt we use is supplied by Irish salt sales Ltd Northern Ireland. Rock salt is applied to road at various rates depending how cold it is. 

Each complete gritting run uses 110 tonnes of rock salt, and costs £6,000. 

There is currently a stock of 12,000 tonnes of rock salt which is normally enough to cover two winters. 

Supplies will be replenished after Christmas to make sure there is enough. 

In addition there are 1,000 salt bins across the county that parish, town and borough councils use for local lightly used routes and pavements. 

These bins are filled by the county council at the beginning of winter and further stocks can be ordered if needed. Snow often causes difficulties on the roads. 

Pre-treatment of roads, before snow fall, is essential as this makes it easier to clear snow from the road once it has settled. We aim to apply a heavy coat of salt to both the Priority and community networks before it starts snowing to aid this. 

Up to 1000 tonnes of salt can be used in 24 hours during snow conditions. 

During a heavy snow storm it is often difficult to keep roads fully cleared until it has stopped and then a clear-up operation starts. 

In extreme conditions the county council has a list of contractors and farmers who can help with clearing snow. 

Find out more about gritting schedules and the routes we clear by visiting 

Be prepared this winter and check before you travel with TravelDorset at or follow us on Twitter @TravelDorset


Meanwhile Hampshire County Council says it is also prepared to take on any wintery conditions that may occur, with enough salt for 15 days of continuous salting. This equates to salting approximately 75,000 miles of roads. 

Some 3,000 community salt bins around the County are being topped up so local communities’ can help themselves to keep pavements and smaller roads clear from ice and snow, and 120 farmers and other contractors are on stand-by with snow ploughs. 

With 5,600 miles of road in Hampshire, the council along with Amey* treat them on a priority basis to keep Hampshire moving.

 ‘Priority One’ routes carry 80 per cent of the total traffic in Hampshire and includes A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to major emergency services, large schools, areas of high traffic concentration and all public transport areas. 

These Priority One routes are routinely treated when the road surface temperature is forecast to drop below zero degrees celsius or ice/ frost is predicted. 

It can take up to three and a half hours to complete the pre-salting of a Priority One route. 

After several days of prolonged severe weather, ‘Priority Two’ routes, which include remaining B roads and single access roads to villages may be treated. 

Additionally, community routes may also be treated to ensure roads to other smaller schools, GPs surgeries and areas of community activity are usable. 

Members of the public can get live updates of when and where road salting is taking place by following the Hampshire County Council’s twitter feed: @hantsconnect 

Last year saw prolonged severe weather across Hampshire which led to 88 per cent more salt being spread than in 2011-12. 

Overall the Council carried out 110 full salting runs, covered 308,000 kilometres and spread 24,500 tonnes of salt.


Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: 

“After the harsh conditions of the last three years we are ready to face the oncoming winter months. We are committed to making sure, as far as possible, that people can access health services; get to work, school and the shops during freezing temperatures. 

“However, we all have a part to play in keeping Hampshire’s roads moving, and I would ask people to always consider if their journey is essential during bad weather, to drive according to the conditions and to remember that even if a road surface looks black it does not mean it is free of ice.” 


Stephen Munro, Amey’s business director, said, 

“We have more than 30 new vehicles in our winter fleet this year, which is part of our commitment to invest in the best machinery and technology for Hampshire’s roads. Our winter planning started six months ago and staff are now on standby around the clock until next Spring. As well as a full salt barn, the community salt bins are being stocked up so people can help themselves during cold snaps, particularly in communities that are not on salting routes.”