Hertfordshire roads to only be gritted if temperatures drop to half a degree above freezing

Gritters will only be sent out in Hertfordshire this winter at temperatures of 0.5C or below. Pictur

Gritters will only be sent out in Hertfordshire this winter at temperatures of 0.5C or below. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Gritters in Hertfordshire will not be sent out until it gets colder this winter – after councillors lowered the trigger temperature to 0.5°C.

Until now a surface temperature of 1°C could have been enough to trigger Herts County Council's gritting operation, but on Monday, September 23, members of the cabinet agreed to lower that temperature to 0.5°C, which is likely to mean the roads will be gritted less often.

At the cabinet meeting, the move was backed by the county council's executive member for highways and environment, Cllr Phil Bibby. He pointed to more accurate weather forecasting and the location of the county's temperature sensors in areas that are vulnerable to the cold.

The change is predicted to make 'minimal savings' to the council's £3.42 million winter services budget, but council officers have said it will bring the country in line with 'some' other authorities, and there will be some environmental benefits.

Meanwhile it was also reported that the county council is looking to introduce a gritter tracking service this year - enabling residents to see an online 'snail trail' of where the gritters have been.

However a proposed review of salt bins on high priority footways has been delayed. According to the review of last year's winter service, there was precautionary salting on 42 occasions - which was lower than the previous five-year average of 54.

On each occasion 2,500km of the county's roads are covered, with the council spreading a total of 10,904 tonnes of salt over the winter period.

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Before giving the go-ahead for a precautionary gritting, council staff consider weather forecasts and the amount of water on the roads, in addition to surface temperature.

It was previously reported to a meeting of the county council's highways and environment cabinet panel that, had the trigger temperature been 0.5°C last winter, the roads would have been gritted on 40 occasions.