Gritting, snow clearing and flooding

Gritting priorities

We have a priority system, to make sure that we treat those areas in greatest need first, as follows:

Priority Type Description

Primary routes

Important principal roads, major scheduled bus routes, routes to fire stations, hospitals, ambulance depots and local danger spots on roads with high traffic levels.

Gritting and/or snow ploughing 24 hours a day on all days. Pre grit if required. Planned treatment or reacting to weather conditions.

Secondary routes

Other classified routes and connecting routes between town centres, and accesses to residential areas.

Gritting and/or snow ploughing during normal working hours - 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 1pm Friday. Pre grit if required.

Terrtiary routes / minor routes

Crossroads and connecting roads, accesses into industrial and residential areas. Residential areas, cul-de-sacs and other unclassified roads.

Normal working hours - 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 1pm Friday. Treatment following snow and ice.

Priority Type Description
Primary routes Urban shopping areas and precincts. Routes to schools, health centres, hospitals, clinics etc. Main routes to residential areas.

During periods of snow and ice, footpaths will be gritted and cleared during normal working hours. Normally we do not pre grit footpaths.

Secondary routes Other routes to residential areas and housing areas in general.

These routes will be treated once snow/ice has been cleared on Priority 1 Routes. Normally we do not pre grit footpaths.


Although most of us call it gritting there is in fact often no grit involved. What we spread on the roads in East Lothian is 6mm crushed rock salt. We spread salt from the back of gritters which is why it’s commonly referred to as gritting.

Precautionary salting or Pre-gritting is the term used when we go out and pre-treat the primary routes with salt prior to the temperatures falling close to or below zero. Water freezes at 0ºC, but salt stops water from freezing until -6º to -8ºC.

Rock salt is spread out of the back of gritters. The rate and speed of spread is controlled by an electronic system in the cab of the gritter. Where temperatures are to fall close to or below zero we would spread salt typically at 10 grams/sqm below this and if snow is forecast with accumulations or snow starts to fall and form we would spread salt between 20-40 grams/sqm. In particularly harsh weather, we have used a salt/grit mix where we mix 6mm stones (grit) in with the salt, this helps with traction and to break up any thick ice.

Grit bins

Grit bins are provided for use by local residents at a limited number of locations where there are particular problems with snow and ice - such as steps, steep roads and paths, etc. Please note that:

  • grit bins will only be provided on sites with difficult conditions
  • grit bins will only be located where they can be filled from a lorry
  • generally, grit bins will not be provided to service a road where it is already a primary gritting route
  • grit bins cannot be placed where they obstruct pedestrians
  • only written requests for bins will be considered. These must be supported by local residents and will be considered after a full assessment has been carried out
  • grit bins will be left in position in the summer months unless they are causing a public nuisance
  • these bins are provided for use on the adopted network only and are not for use on private roads or driveways. Any abuse of this condition can lead to them being removed
  • a review of locations for grit bins is carried out each year, taking into account any additional requests from local residents

Read more in our Winter Maintenance Plan or our leaflet which explains how you can Get Ready for Winter.

Ploughed snow at the side of roads

Clearing snow from road surfaces can lead to ploughed snow blocking driveways, parked cars, pavements and other roads. This displaced snow is not normally cleared as it would slow down/potentially prevent clearing other priority roads.