Extra gritters drafted in as Edinburgh braces for big freeze

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Thermal mapping technology will be used to help keep icy roads and pavements safe this winter – with the council borrowing 12 additional vehicles to cope with any harsh weather.

The city council is preparing for any extreme weather thrown at the Capital this winter and has more than 14,500 tonnes of salt ready to be spread across surfaces. Mini tractors and gritters are ready to be deployed – but the council has been forced to hire 12 additional vehicles to ease pressure on its “ageing fleet”.

Many surburban areas of Edinburgh were left untreated during the recent cold snap

Many surburban areas of Edinburgh were left untreated during the recent cold snap

The additional vehicles will be paid for from the council’s existing £2.9 million winter weather budget.

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Thermal maps “will display dynamically for each night” allowing council officers to prioritise gritting certain routes. 

A gritter on the road

A gritter on the road

The heat map will be produced after infrared sensors were mounted to vehicles to measure temperatures across the city during previous winters – showing officers which roads are more likely to need treated, depending on live weather data.

The council will receive detailed current and historical information on street conditions at selected points through a road monitoring system. 

Sensors are located within the surface of the road at locations across the city. Telematics devices installed in all vehicles will allow gritting teams to “respond more quickly to the public” while a dedicated email inbox will deal with issues raised by residents.

READ MORE: Cold snap brings near freezing temperatures to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Council's preparation for winter -'Fraser Stewart, a depot roadman, shovelling road salt

Edinburgh Council's preparation for winter -'Fraser Stewart, a depot roadman, shovelling road salt

Transport and environment convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes said: “As well as topped-up salt stocks, a fleet of gritters, ploughs and mini-tractors and fully trained staff on standby 24-7, this winter we’ll be benefiting from new technology to help us serve the city which will enable us to better use resources.

“Due to recent changes to our fleet, including the decommissioning of some older vehicles, we have also arranged the hire of 12 modern, reliable gritters on a trial basis.

“This will allow us to explore newer equipment and to better understand the size and type of fleet needed.”

During any extreme weather, bin collections are “likely to cease or at least be significantly reduced” while staff are deployed to carry out winter duties.

Staff from across the council have been recruited to its “severe winter weather tactical response team” to help keep the city moving.

Grit bins on non-priority pavements, cycleways and roads will be replenished first to ensure residents have a supply of salt to allow for self-help.

Local farmers have been enlisted, as in previous years, to grit rural routes.