East Lothian Council

Winter road maintenance

Snow clearing FAQs

Banks of snow and car

What happens when snow is forecast?

When snow is forecast salt is spread on the roads to slow the rate of snow settling. The main difference between treatments for frost/ice and snow is that for snow the salt spreading rate increases.

For snow to melt the salt needs to be mixed with the snow to form brine and traffic movement helps this process. If the snow becomes hard packed this process takes longer and traffic conditions can then become a problem, particularly on hills.

Why do your snow ploughs push all the snow so that it blocks driveways, parked cars, pavements and other roads?

Unfortunately, there's no alternative if we are to keep roads open. If snow ploughs went back and cleared entrances as well, this would slow down the snow clearing process and potentially prevent us from clearing other road.

Why have cleared the pavement on one side only?

By gritting just one side of the pavement we are able to move quickly on to other areas. We clear enough space so that users of wheelchairs, pushchairs and prams can use the pavements. By not clearing the whole pavement we are able to treat all the priority areas rather than just some.

Do you expect people to clear snow and ice from their own street?

With any heavy snowfall, or very icy conditions, it's impossible for the Council to treat everywhere at once, and where the severe weather is prolonged, we have to maintain priority routes. We encourage people to take responsibility for their own area and do what they can to help, especially for vulnerable neighbours.

Will legal action be taken against me if I clear my pavement and someone slips on it?

The advice from the UK Government states that "There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully."

Follow the snow code advice.

What is an Extreme Weather Event?

An extreme weather event occurs when continuous snow is forecast and likely to give significant build up in excess of 10cm over a substantial proportion of East Lothian. The snow will also be expected to remain in untreated areas for a prolonged period due to low temperatures before a natural thaw disperses it.

During periods of extreme weather and heavy continuous snowfall when roads and footpaths are affected by significant levels of lying snow, priority will be given to primary carriageway routes and primary footpath routes. Gritters will be deployed on these specified routes continuously until satisfactory snow clearance has been achieved before resources are deployed to any secondary routes and tertiary routes.

Environmental Services

Telephone: 01875 824305

Out of hours emergency contact

Telephone: 01875 612818

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.