Winter maintenance

Winter maintenance resources

The provision of the winter maintenance service costs the council in the region of £4 million to £9 million depending on the severity of the winter. Over the winter period we expect to use between 40,000 tonnes and 55,000 tonnes of salt and spend between £1.9 million to £2.9 million on winter plant (such as snow ploughs, gritters, tractors). Our workforce can expect to be operational for 50,000 to 90,000 man-hours.

We have in the region of 100 gritters/snow ploughs available at any given time. The majority of our fleet are not dedicated purely to winter maintenance, the lorries carrying out normal road maintenance functions when not engaged in winter operations. All vehicles engaged in gritting are also fitted with the capability of being mounted with snow ploughs. In addition we have over 50 compact tractors to carry out gritting of footways. Our own fleet is supplemented by around 120 farmers' ploughs and 32 ploughs operated by contractors.

We have in the region of 220 staff to call on for front line services supported by 30 officials carrying out other essential roles.

The primary treatment network requires 32 front line snow ploughs/gritters, with over 100 drivers on the operational rota.

The council has a salt supply contract with a UK based supplier. We have an agreement with our salt supplier to re-stock during the summer months. We aim to have approximately 25,000 tonnes of salt in stock in our depots to begin winter, and have arrangements in place for additional deliveries to be made throughout the winter months. We also can hold up to 10,000 tonnes in reserve to enable us to continue to provide a service should we experience any difficulties with supply.

Transport Scotland also hold a national strategic salt supply that is available to the Scottish councils and trunk road operating companies if required.


Given the scale of financial and other resources involved in delivering the winter service it's not reasonable to:

  • provide the service on all parts of the network
  • make sure running surfaces are kept free of ice or snow at all times, even on the treated parts of the network

Our aim is to provide a winter gritting and snow clearing service which as far as is reasonably practical, within financial constraints and resource limitations, will 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.

Whilst we endeavour to provide the highest level of service, during extreme weather conditions we may not be able to:

  • Keep every road in Aberdeenshire free from ice and snow at all times
  • Stop ice from forming - salt requires time and vehicle activity to become an efficient de-icer and sometimes at very low temperatures salt it's not effective
  • React to individual requests to clear minor or residential roads
  • Prevent snow from lying - despite pre-gritting, during periods of heavy snowfall the roads can become covered with snow even when snow ploughing is taking place

It is sometimes impossible for roads to be cleared due to obstructions, such as parked or abandoned cars. By their nature, and the prevailing road conditions, snow ploughs can have limited manoeuvrability. This is more often a problem in built-up areas, and can also affect our work on footways.

We don't provide a 24-hour service. In general we commence operations at 5:30am and don't normally work beyond 10pm.

Resilience road network

In extreme unforeseen circumstances such as fuel shortages or epidemic illness the level of winter service is likely to be severely reduced. The resilience road network (PDF 18KB) is designed to allow major settlements to access the trunk road network or routes towards Aberdeen.