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Winter service and emergency plan



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1.0 Winter service and emergency plan 2023/24

1.1 Introduction

The Railways and Transport Safety Bill received Royal Assent on 10 July 2003 and came into force on 31 October 2003. It contains a clause that adds the following after Section 41(1) of the Highways Act 1980

“(1A) In particular, a highway authority is under a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice.”

There is also a duty under Section 150 to remove obstructions, which includes snow. It is therefore important that the procedures set out in this Plan are followed. The Plan is reviewed annually and has been designed as an operational handbook for staff in Devon’s Highway Management Service, maintenance contractors, for the information of adjoining highway authorities and other road users. It sets out winter service policies and procedures to meet the duties imposed under the Highways Act. Details of the primary salting network are given in Chapter 2, dealing with ice in Chapter 8 and snow in Chapter 9.

1.2 Aim of the plan

This document sets out the County Council’s strategy and details how winter service and emergency operations are managed. Its objectives are designed to assist emergency services, commerce and industry as well as other road users and can be summarised as follows:

  • to provide, within resource constraints, as safe passage as possible for users of the highway
  • to minimise delays, accidents and damage resulting from snow, ice and associated flooding of the highway
  • to undertake winter maintenance operations effectively and efficiently
  • to ensure that the aims of the environmental statement on pollution are met
  • to achieve the requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004

The main facilities in place to achieve these aims are:-

  • 24-hour monitoring of the highway network by the Network Operations Control Centre, which liaises with partners and adjoining authorities
  • a maintenance contractor with a trained workforce to deal with winter service and emergencies
  • strategically sited stocks of salt
  • dedicated salt spreading and snow ploughing plant
  • a network of sensors recording climatic and road surface conditions which, together with weather forecasts, help in the prediction of ice and snow
  • radar images of precipitation from the national network of radar stations
  • satellite images of cloud cover
  • integrated weather monitoring system to inform interested staff of road and weather conditions

1.3 Winter service period

This is the period where treatment on the Primary Salting Network (PSN) may occur and is normally from 15th October through to 15th April. This period may be brought forward or extended depending upon weather conditions at the time.

Winter Service is provided by the Term Service Contractor and directed by Devon County Council staff.

1.4 Abbreviations

The following are abbreviations used in winter maintenance:

EMV/4WDEmergency vehicles and 4-Wheeled Drive only
GPSGlobal Positioning System (used in automatic vehicle tracking)
IBCImpassable, being cleared
INBCImpassable, not being cleared
NHTNeighbourhood Highway Team
NOCCNetwork Operations Control Centre
PECPassable with extreme care, snow still present over a road length
PNAPPassable, not available to the public
PSNPrimary Salting Network
PWCPassable with Care, isolated areas of snow
RCRoad Closed
RSTRoad Surface Temperature
SLOSlow Lane Only (Lane 1) / No Overtaking
SSNSecondary Salting Network
TMPTerm Maintenance Provider

2.0 Salting network

2.1 Introduction

To meet the duty to provide safe passage along the highway in a reasonable and practicable manner under Section 41(1A) of the Highways Act and to meet the requirements of the Traffic Management Act and Road Traffic Act, the County Council undertakes pre-salting of the Primary Salting Network to prevent as far as reasonably possible the formation of ice or snow from settling. It is not expected that reports of ice not on the primary salting network will normally receive treatment. However, during long cold periods, snow or ice is treated on other routes including footways and cycleways, off the PSN as needed, subject to resource availability, once the PSN is clear.

During the summer of 2011, a comprehensive route optimisation exercise was been carried out with the Met Office, the outcome of which was a reduction in the number of salting routes required to deliver the PSN. Since then several minor alterations have occurred to the salting network, principally where there have been physical changes to the highways network usually as a result of development.

2.2 Primary salting network (PSN)

Devon County Council as highway authority maintains nearly 13,000 km of roads in the county. During a winter emergency, it is not practicable or cost-effective for the whole network to be pre-treated or cleared immediately.

Criteria have been developed enabling the PSN to be defined, this ensures a consistent approach across the County and achieves a reasonable balance between cost and level of service.

The criterion is as follows:

  • strategic routes – all A and B roads and C roads classified as high-speed routes
  • traffic flow – routes with February two way flows greater than 1000 vehicles per day
  • settlement population – main access route to settlements with a population of 500 or greater as provided by Strategic Intelligence
  • emergency premises – main access route to 24hr emergency services premises, defined as “Emergency premises with 24-hour access” include: ambulance stations, full time and retained fire stations, hospitals with 24-hour casualty departments and police stations manned 24 hours.
  • cottage and community hospitals – main highway access route to strategic cottage and community hospitals as notified to the authority by Devon Primary Care Trust
  • secondary schools (including Independent secondary schools) – main highway access to secondary schools
  • bus routes – bus routes with a service interval 15 minutes or less within any one hour of the day, in one direction of travel or where a combination of multiple bus services meet these criteria
  • airports – main highway access to regional airports
  • railway stations – Main highway access to mainline and branch line railway stations
  • adjoining highway authority salting networks – agreement to ensure consistency of action across boundaries
  • The bus loop of park & ride sites

The length of the road forming the PSN comprised of 37 routes is about 20% of the road network therefore 80% of the road network will not receive precautionary salting even if icy roads are forecast.

Total road length: 12866 kilometres or 7995 miles

Length of road salted: 2664 kilometres or 1655 miles

The M5 motorway and following trunk roads are the responsibility of National Highways, contact names and numbers for these roads are available from the NOCC.

  • M5 County boundary to J31, Pearces Hill
  • A30W Pearces Hill to Lifton
  • A30E M5 J29 to Devonshire House
  • A303 Devonshire House to Marsh
  • A35 Honiton to Raymond’s Hill
  • A38 Pearces Hill to Tamar Bridge

2.3 Cross-boundary salting

Several sections of the County’s network are salted by adjacent authorities and the detailed maps in Appendix 8 indicate the sections of the County network that are treated by our neighbouring authorities. The County treats some sections of adjacent authorities’ networks in Dorset, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay; details of the sections treated are shown on the route maps in Appendix 2. Under the Highways Act, responsibility for maintaining safe passage rests with the highway authority for the road and this arrangement allows for the efficient operation of the service.

Detailed action and operational procedures are described in section 7.10

2.4 Winter service

Winter service is defined as the service provided by the County Council to meet its duty under the Highways Act 1980, the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the Road Traffic Act. This recognises recommendations and best practice included in the relevant National Code of Practice.

2.5 Primary salting network (PSN) map

The following map shows the pre-salting network as defined in section 2.2, full route descriptions and maps are given in Appendix 2.

An up-to-date route card and a map is produced for each route and must be kept in the assigned gritting vehicle at all times. A route optimisation exercise has been carried out to maximise efficiency by adopting the concept that the most efficient routes treat a distinct area (i.e. not having significant overlap with other routes) and that they are confined to one weather domain. Arrangements with neighbouring authorities at the County’s boundaries have been agreed.

2.6 Salting footways and cycleways

Winter service is important to the County Council in improving road safety, preventing collisions and ensuring that the effect of adverse weather on road users is minimised. Whilst some precautionary treatment of footways and cycleways would be desirable, the cost of providing a service suggests that the current policy of only providing a reactive service is appropriate, when considering the risks to the road user and the Authority.

Busy footways e.g. main shopping centres are treated on a reactive basis during periods of prolonged freezing, within the resources available, once the precautionary salting network is clear.

Major cycleways will only be treated on a reactive basis during periods of prolonged freezing within the available resources and priorities.

A copy of the report giving further details appears in appendix 7 and was further considered by the Devon County Council scrutiny committee in 2020 with no changes to current policy recommended.

This will be subject to regular review.

2.7 Secondary salting network (SSN)

The secondary salting network will usually be treated during extended periods of cold weather (defined as snow or ice most of the day). The list of the settlements and roads is in Appendix 3.

The secondary route criteria are defined as follows:

  • settlement population – main access route to settlements with a population of 100 to 499
  • park and ride sites (most park and ride sites have height barriers and arrangements will need to be put in place to allow access, only access roads are treated)
  • bus routes – where problems have been identified on routes with a service interval 30 minutes or less within any one hour of the day, in one direction of travel, or where a combination of multiple bus services meets these criteria
  • the main highway access route to Devon County Council Level 1 properties (those council properties providing essential services which cannot be closed in severe weather – as defined in during the swine flu pandemic emergency response)

2.8 Level crossings

Network Rail level crossings have equipment prone to signal failure when solutions high in salt exist. Network Rail has instructed that all level crossings should not be salted between the stop lines. Consequently, consideration should be given to the siting of grit bins containing only grit at these locations. Any accidental spillage of salt should be reported immediately to Network Rail or private rail operator quoting the location reference displayed at the crossing.

Network Rail 24hr emergency number: 08457114141

Location namePublic or private roadOS grid reference
Hele & BradninchPublic roadSS 995 023
Stoke CannonPublic roadSX 937 980
Red CowPrivate roadSX 910 936
CreditonPublic roadSX 840 994
Salmon PoolPublic roadSX 827 991
EggesfordPublic roadSS 683 115
UmberleighPublic roadSS 609 328
PinhoePublic roadSX 964 942
CrannafordPublic roadSY 012 960
TopshamPublic roadSX 965 884
TeignbridgePublic roadSX 856 733
AxePublic roadST 321 017
AxminsterPublic roadSY 295 987
FenitonPublic roadSY 094 944

Private rail level crossings

Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway telephone number: 01803555872

Location namePublic or private roadOS grid reference
KingswearPublic roadSX 288 052

Seaton Tramway telephone number: 0129720375

Location namePublic or private roadOS grid reference
ColyfordPublic roadSY 254 927

2.9 Winter service resilience levels

Recommendation 25a of the Quarmby Review on the “Resilience of England’s Transport Systems in Winter” recommends highway authorities adopt a full pre-season stock resilience benchmark of 12 days/48 runs. The winter service period is broken down into distinct times:

Overall Winter Period is 1st October to 30th April (3 days resilience)
Core Winter Period is 1st November to 1st March (6 days resilience)

Devon County Council enters the winter service period with a normal resilience over 12 days or 48 runs quoted at the quoted treatment rate.

During the winter service period, the Country may experience difficulties in the regular supply of salt and this can and has affected Devon in the past. To maintain adequate resilience over the core winter period this authority will seek to maintain adequate salt stocks in December, January and February (the high-risk period) to be able to treat a reduced/core pre-salt network at a rate of 20g/m² six times a day for 6 days. This will require a minimum stock holding of 13,000 tonnes during December, January and February (the high-risk period). During the lower risk months of November and March, the stock holding would be a minimum of 6,500 tonnes.

Where problems exist regarding the supply of salt and there is uncertainty on the timing of deliveries, Devon County Council will take appropriate action to conserve salt stocks by rationing salt through as many of the methods detailed below as deemed necessary. The decision to take this action will be made in consultation with the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure, Development and Waste.

  • for all salting treatments, a mixture of 80% salt and 20% grit will be used for gritters which are unable to treat at less than 10gsm
  • spread salt at a maximum of 10g/m² in any single treatment
  • no salt, grit only when refilling grit bins
  • suspension of secondary route treatment

2.10 Minimum winter network

In the event of a salt shortage or other resource problems, a reduced salting network of just over 50% of the pre-salt network will be implemented to the following criteria:

  • ‘A’ roads
  • the main access to 24-hour emergency premises
  • the main access to the primary market and coastal towns

This minimum winter network will only be implemented when authorised by the Head of Highways and Traffic Management in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, and it will be instigated on a countywide basis only.

2.11 Road closure procedures and diversion routes

It has been agreed that when sections of the County’s network, motorway or trunk road are closed, and diversion routes are in operation, the salting plant usually in operation on the closed section will treat the diversion route when salting is required unless already forming part of the County’s pre salting network. Consideration should be given to salting up to the point of closure if a significant distance is involved. Salting must be considered when closures are set up or removed.

Consideration may also be given to salt a section of road being used as a diversion route following an incident on the primary salting network if the closure is expected to last for a significant time.

2.12 Review of network

The PSN and SSN are reviewed annually to reflect developments, improvements, changes in traffic patterns and settlement populations. Routes on both networks may be varied by the County Council as route priorities change.

3.0 Preparation for winter and the contractor role

3. 1 Introduction

The County Council and its Term Service Contractor must be at a state of readiness before the onset of winter conditions. It is therefore of the utmost importance that planned winter service operations are defined by 1 October, so highway users are not put at unnecessary risk.

The following operations must be carried out before the start of the winter season:

  • the use of salt bags will be minimised but can be placed on steep hills or known trouble spots where no grit bin is located. Bags will be placed at these locations by the end of October. Salt bags will not be placed by DCC in Parishes where a snow warden is active; the salt supplied to the parish should be used. NHTs may provide empty salt bags if requested particularly where dumpy bags have been supplied
    Reposition grit bins as required (Highway inventory must be updated)
  • grit bins containing only grit should be sited at Network Rail level crossings as some have signalling equipment whose performance would be adversely affected by salt
  • a central order will be raised for the replenishment of grit bins across the authority
  • inspection of the pre-salting network to identify drainage problems and locations where water is discharged onto the highway. Every effort should be made to alleviate these sites by routine maintenance. The repair and maintenance of existing positive drainage systems including gullies should be undertaken. Negotiations should be undertaken with landowners wherever possible to prevent discharge of water onto the highway
  • local teams should ensure vehicles are adequately prepared for winter use in terms of staff welfare
  • the Network Operations Control Centre to arrange for the calibration of road sensors and any necessary maintenance
  • Neighbourhood Highway Teams to ensure that Local Snow Plans are up-to-date and that they know what resources (staffing and otherwise) are available in the event of an emergency
  • Neighbourhood Highway Teams will liaise with the appropriate District Council Officer and agree on the role to be undertaken by District Council controlled labour and equipment in the event of severe winter weather
  • Neighbourhood Highway Teams to check with the term contractor the location and availability of farmers and contractors with tractor mounted snow blowers
  • Neighbourhood Highway Teams to check with their local snow wardens ensuring all contact details are up-to-date and to arrange for the replenishment of salt if appropriate
  • standby duty officers to arrange for the materials laboratory to test and calibrate all thermometers

3.2 Pre-winter meetings with the term maintenance contractor

Devon Highways should arrange pre-winter meetings with the maintenance contractor during the first week in October which should confirm the following:

  • plant readiness and completion of the summer service to vehicles
  • ploughs to be accessible at all times and fitted as part of trial runs carried out in September. As part of the summer service, all rubber and warning lights should have been checked, wheels freed, etc
  • the completion of Gritter calibration and driver instruction on the setting of spread rates and patterns for specific routes
  • that the maintenance contractor has sufficient trained operatives for all winter service activities, including a sufficient number of trained operatives for the snow blowers on a 3-shift system to facilitate 24-hour working
  • certification of operatives for winter service
  • deployment of men and vehicles
  • winter service pre-salting routes
  • salt stocks
  • contact/standby systems and rotas

3.3 Pre-winter readiness

  • Before the start of the winter service period for each year of the contract, the following operations shall be carried out
  • the employer shall before the start of the winter service period provide the maintenance provider with schedules and plans of the pre-salting routes on both the primary and secondary salting networks
  • the maintenance provider shall before 1st September each year agree with the employer his planned deployment of manpower, vehicles (both Employer and maintenance provider-owned/hired vehicles), plant and all equipment that they are required to use and proposes to utilise for the undertaking of the winter service operation
  • to determine the time taken to travel a pre-salt route the Employer may require the Contractor to undertake a trial run of the route using the vehicle dedicated for use on that route for the following Winter Service period. The vehicle will be loaded to 75% capacity salt and brine for the trial but no discharge of salt/brine will occur. An additional run may be instructed by the employer with the snow plough fitted
  • the maintenance provider shall ensure before 1st September each year that all Winter Service vehicles have received their required summer service
  • the maintenance provider shall ensure before 30th September each year that all Winter Service vehicles are calibrated following this plan. Certificates of calibration are to be provided to the Employer by 1st October each year
  • the maintenance provider during September each year on dates determined by the Employer presents all Winter Service vehicles and plant as a group at their respective Winter Service depots for inspection by the Employer. Each vehicle shall be fitted with its allocated snow plough blades and salting equipment for the inspection

3.4 Winter service contractor’s role

This section details the role of the winter service contractor and should be read in conjunction with the entire winter service plan.

The workforce along with some plant and equipment to carry out winter service and emergency operations is provided by the County Council’s term service contractor.

The contractor is on standby from 15 October to 15 April, occasionally there is a need to respond to situations requiring winter service action outside this period and plant and personnel should be ready between 1 October and 30 April. This document has already stressed the importance of pre-winter season meetings, plant calibration and other issues affecting the works.

3.5 Highway term service contract

The contract encompasses all activities necessary to secure the free passage and safety of persons using the highway network. Milestone has provided a commitment that they will have sufficient resources available to attend all winter service call-outs on the salting network and emergencies within the required response times. This work will take precedence over other highway works.

3.6 Routes

Individual salting routes are provided to the Contractor with any amendments going through a consultation process. When agreeing routes it is imperative salting vehicles are matched to specific routes (e.g. some routes have very narrow sections which would not be suitable for the larger capacity bulk gritters) and that the overall route efficiency (salting length divided by total length to the completion of salting) is as high as practicable. The contractor is expected to be at the start of the route defined as when the salting starts (not leaving the depot unless that is where salting starts) at the pre-agreed action time or within one hour when an immediate call-out is instructed.

3.7 Trained operatives

Under the Contract, Milestone must provide a sufficient number of trained operatives to carry out continuous shift work, on the salting network, during snow or other emergencies. All drivers salting, gritting, and ploughing on roads must be trained and successfully assessed per City and Guilds 6157 and registered with the IDeA.

The Maintenance Contractor shall ensure that all their operatives engaged on the delivery of Winter Service are fully trained and certified in the proper use, handling and pre-driver vehicle inspection requirements and equipment maintenance as required by this plan and as otherwise required by the Employer. The Maintenance Provider may be required on occasions to undertake evening and overnight inspections (EOI) and early morning inspections (EMI). The Maintenance Provider should agree with the Employer before the start of the Winter Service period the number of operatives likely to be required. Those identified shall be fully trained per this plan.

3.8 Milestone Contacts

Contact numbers for Milestone managers and DCC Managers can be obtained from the NOCC are provided in the Devon Highways Hub along with a full listing of those involved in winter service activities.

4.0 Plant

4.1 Introduction

The effectiveness of the winter service plant is crucial to the efficient delivery of the service. The plant that cannot be calibrated to spread salt properly will compromise the objective of preventing ice with minimal salt use. Devon’s strategy is therefore to run a well-maintained fleet of modern salting vehicles.

4.2 Winter Service Fleet

The plant available for winter service (directly owned by DCC or provided by the contractor) is as follows:

37 frontline gritters
10 reserve frontline gritters
2 white-out gritters
6 tractor-mounted spreaders
7 tractor trailed gritters
59 snow ploughs
5 snow blowers (tractor mounted)

Milestone also has access to additional resources through its supply chain.

4.3 Post-treatment maintenance

On completion of each salting operation unless agreed by the Employer. The Maintenance Provider shall demobilise each vehicle by unloading any remaining brine, salt or grit, thoroughly wash down and clean the whole vehicle, ensure the vehicle is fully fuelled and if no anticipated need exists over the next 24 hours detach any snow plough and snow clearing blade which may have been used in the previous treatment.

Where garaging facilities are made available for the winter service vehicles the winter service provider shall ensure that priority is given to garaging the Employer owned vehicles over the Maintenance Providers vehicle.

4.4 Speed of gritters

The driver is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is driven safely and legally, with due regard for road conditions, however the maximum speed (recommended by the manufacturer) that gritters may travel when salting is:

  • Speed related pre-wet spreaders – 45 mph [72 kph]
  • Speed related dry spreaders – 40 mph [64 kph]
  • Non-speed related demounts – 25 mph [40 kph]

Travelling speed when not spreading should be appropriate to the road and conditions. Speeds for other types of gritter should be checked with the Materials Laboratory.

4.5 Calibration of spreaders

All gritting plant is calibrated following the recommendations in National Winter Service Research Group Practical Guide for Winter Service Section Six – Spreader Management, to a specification defined by Devon County Council Materials Laboratory. A calibration certificate is provided for each vehicle at the start of each winter service period. Details of this specification can be obtained directly from the Materials Laboratory or may be viewed in the Winter Service section of the Devon Highways Hub. All frontline and reserve dedicated gritters will have the capability of spreading prewet salt in 1gsm increments from 8gsm to 20 gsm.

4.6 Tracking devices in gritters

It is intended that tracking information should be available from the front line fleet of gritters whenever possible, as this has shown to be invaluable for:

  • providing evidence for legal defence and in investigating complaints
  • monitoring the treatment of routes
  • determining the average route treatment times
  • providing an archive of treatment data for route planning

The contractor will maintain good alternative records of gritter activity to provide adequate backup to this system.

4.7 Plant replacement and future plant strategy

The current fleet of gritters is predominantly under ten years old, and the route optimisation undertaken in 2011 has reduced the number of dedicated front line gritters required to 37

There has also been a long-standing commitment to using a pre-wet front line fleet, as this again helps to minimise salt usage and improves resilience.

Frontline gritters will continue to be replaced as they reach the end of life on a rolling programme, and where economically advantageous, second-hand vehicles a few years old will be purchased.

An appropriate number of frontline reserve dedicated gritters will be held to support the front line fleet, and this currently stands at twelve. These will be the first vehicle used routinely if any front line gritters fail.

A white-out fleet is maintained to respond to the more extreme winter conditions that occur from time to time, for example, heavy snow. These periods typically last for a week to ten days. A balance has to be maintained between the cost of maintaining this fleet and the frequency with which it is required. Recent budget pressures have required a reduction in these costs, and some quick wins have been achieved by allowing the contractor to dispose of some vehicles. However alternative equipment in the form of tractors deployed with ploughs, hoppers, trailed gritters and snow blower attachments have been procured to offset some of the reduction.

The dedicated snow blowers were replaced with tractor mounted snow blowers, which will facilitate quicker deployment. The contractor is required to provide the appropriate tractors to support the deployment of these snow blowers.

Snow Ploughs – each front line Gritter and reserve will be equipped with a snow plough and a suitable number of spares available.

4.8 Hire of additional plant

In emergencies, local areas may require additional plant; this can be ordered and paid for through the Term Maintenance Contractor or directly from a District Council.

4.9 Transfer of plant

Where an Area is severely affected by winter weather and additional gritters/snow blowers are required, they should liaise with the Operations Manager to agree on transfers from other Areas.

4.10 Vehicle and plant breakdowns

It is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that vehicles are serviced to minimise breakdowns. When these do occur, it is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that the area and the NOCC are informed with an estimated time for completing the route, either by repairing the vehicle or using a substitute, whichever will provide the quickest response. It is the responsibility of the client to consider any other implications of this delay (e.g. timing of critical road weather conditions) and whether any other action is appropriate (e.g. reallocation of front line vehicles from less strategic routes).

4.11 Summer plant servicing

The summer service of the winter service plant will be undertaken by the maintenance contractor between 1 May and 30 September. Areas should receive written confirmation from the maintenance contractor that the summer service has been completed at the time the vehicles are returned to their operating depots before the end of September.

4.12 Health and safety

An emergency pack and blanket should be provided by the Contractor for each bulk gritter with two packs and blankets for each snow blower. The packs are to be checked during September with any necessary replacements ordered by the maintenance contractor. Responsibility for the health and safety of the contractor’s staff lies with their Employer.

5.0 Salt and grit

5.1 Introduction

Winter service operations seek to ensure the safety of road users whilst minimising the use of de-icing agents. Widespread use of alternatives to salt is not currently cost-effective but any new materials or methods will continue to be considered and trialled where appropriate. Environmental aims are achieved when the correct patterns and rates of spread of salt appropriate to conditions are maintained.

5.2 Effectiveness of salt

Research has demonstrated salt (sodium chloride) will effectively treat ice to temperatures of -9ºC or with a fully saturated brine solution to -15ºC. However, the latest advice in NWSRG Guidance is that consideration should be given to using alternative de-icers where temperatures fall below -5 ºC in low humidity and -7 ºC in normal winter conditions. As these temperatures only occur in Devon on rare occasions, the risk assessment is that salt will continue to be used and alternative de-icers will not be held in stock. Media messages with appropriate warnings would be issued to alert motorists to the hazard.

5.3 Salt stock levels

The management of the salt stock is the responsibility of the maintenance contractor. The planned pre-winter stock level is 23500 tonnes of spreading salt and 1074 tonnes of brining salt, capacities at each depot are shown in the salt stock table that follows. Brining salt is monitored closely and if a depot falls below 20 tonnes then additional salt is ordered and delivered from a call-off order.

Winter salt stock capacities 2022/23 (all capacity figures in tonnes)

DepotSpreading saltBrining saltTotal
South Molton3250403270
Dolton Beacon1450281478

During periods of extreme snow conditions arrangements are in place to use the Highways England depot at *Pridhamsleigh for emergency refilling for extended operations, initial contact should be made via the NOCC.

5.4 Salt barns

Salt barns are effective in providing conditions that keep salt at low moisture content; preventing leaching and allowing easier handling of the salt. Barns will ideally have an entrance at both ends but where this is not the case, the stocks should be worked from one side at a time to the rear of the barn and not across the full face, as this allows the stocks to be turned over.

Salt depot location plan

5.5 Temporary storage depots

During emergencies, temporary stockpiles may be used at locations which provide adequate working areas and suitable access without causing pollution problems. Any such location must be cleared at the end of the winter. Under no circumstances will temporary storage depot stocks be placed within 15m of trees or 4.5m of hedges, or sited where pollution of watercourses may occur. The requirements of paragraph 5.4 above must be met.

5.6 The benefits of pre-wetted salt application

To be effective the salt needs to be used in the best form and on the right place in the road. Using small particle sizes achieves this and the most effective road position is in the wheel tracks.

The conventional application of salt relies on a spinner mechanism to distribute the salt behind the gritting vehicle. This action alone causes the salt particles to segregate. Historically the salt used was 10mm nominal size which tended to bounce on the road surface or be spread too widely on distribution. Traffic following the gritter tends to displace those particles that fell into the wheel tracks. The move to finer grading of salt to reduce wastage during distribution does, on high-speed roads, lead to the potential for traffic and wind-induced drift of the particles, i.e. some of the salt ends up out of the wheel tracks and often in roadside vegetation or watercourses.

Pre-wetting the particles of salt as they are distributed from the gritting vehicle leads to a more predictable spread pattern. Pre-wetted particles bounce less and a residual salt layer is adsorbed and adheres more effectively to the road surface. Very fine particles are also less liable to drift in-vehicle slipstreams (including the spreading vehicle) and in crosswinds. Pre-wet salt, therefore, is in a form and position where its de-icing action is most beneficial and lasts longer. The 6mm salt can be spread dry or pre-wet, but when making brine solution the salt must not contain more than 2% insoluble. There is a significant saving in salt on negative texture surfacing as it can be spread at the standard rates.

5.7 Salt grading and composition

To ensure control of the rate of spread when using correctly calibrated winter plant, the quality of salt is important. Two grades of salt are used as detailed below.

Salt for spreading

The following Devon County Council specification shall be used when ordering salt for dry or wet spreading on carriageways:

Sieve Size (mm)6.32.360.3
Percentage passing10030 – 700 – 10
Anti-caking agent>30mg/kg

This grading is coarser than the BS3247 specification because trials have indicated a more uniform spread is achieved on the carriageway and overspread reduced by 17%, so reducing contamination of the adjacent vegetation.
Chemical composition shall be stated by the supplier and tested by the Materials Laboratory per BS 3247 Part 1. All salt shall be transported in covered vehicles and shall have a moisture content not exceeding 4% by mass when delivered to the stockpile.

Salt for the brine solution

Salt specifically for the making of brine will be to the same constituent specification as that for pre-wet spreading above except for the grading requirement.


Sieve Size (mm)63.350.5
Percentage passing10090 – 1005

5.8 Restocking of salt

The County Council procure all road and brining salt. This allows the Council to control salt quality together with obtaining salt at the lowest price. The salt is procured through a framework tender contract that includes a consortium agreement with Cornwall Council.

5.9 Restocking of salt in summer

In liaison with the maintenance contractor, depot managers will inform the Highway Operations Team of salt stock levels in each of the depots by the first week of March, confirming the levels at the end of the winter season.

The contract for salt supply includes a requirement for the supplier to inform Devon Procurement of dates, delivery and times for each location. They, in turn, will inform the Materials Laboratory and Areas, confirming details at least 48 hours before delivery.

The density of salt stored in barns is nominally 1.24 t/m3.

5.10 Restocking of salt in winter

The term maintenance contractor must inform the Operations Team when salt levels in any depot fall to 50% of the proposed pre-winter stock. This information will be used to determine if an additional order for salt should be placed with the supplier.

Reference should be made to section 2.9 on the need to maintain minimum stock levels of 6,500 tonnes from December to February and 5,000 tonnes in November and March. This is to ensure resilience to severe winter weather in high and medium risk months.

5.11 Barn owl nesting boxes

During 1993 barn owl nesting boxes were placed in 5 salt barns: Beacon Down, Parracombe; South Molton; Copstone, Parkham; Dolton Beacon; Fordton, Crediton. The barn owl is listed on schedule one of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which means it is protected against disturbance whilst at or near the nest. As the main restocking takes place near the end of the normal nesting season (March-August inclusive) care must be taken to ensure there is no disturbance. Inspections during the nesting season at sites where occupation by barn owls is suspected can only be carried out by the holder of a Natural England nest inspection licence such as the Barn Owl Trust. Boxes can be checked outside the normal nesting season provided there is no evidence of Barn Owl nesting at the time.

5.12 Supply of salt to public sector organisations and the general public

Requests for the supply of salt to outside organisations will generally be refused. The maintenance contractor, who manages and owns the salt stocks, may not sell salt to other Local Authority Directorates or Government bodies without the permission from the Head of Service or their delegate.

Public Sector Organisations can order salt in 25 kg sacks or 1-tonne dumpy bags by contacting Devon Procurement Services on 01392 383000 who will pass on details of the framework salt supplier.

The general public can obtain 25 kg sacks from some builders’ merchants for use on private property.

The Head of Service or their delegate may instruct the Maintenance Provider to supply members of the public with salt for highway use up to a maximum of 25 kg during extended periods of cold weather or snow (defined as most of the day), sacks should contain a maximum of 12.5 kg. This should be by arrangement from places where the public normally have access, not from operational depots unless there are appropriate safety facilities and insurance cover. The person issued with salt should be given a copy of the appropriate guidelines for use and sign the register.

5.13 Grit

Grit for roads for winter service will be a 50/50 mix by volume of salt with a clean, coarse, crushed aggregate or sand having angular particle shape with a nominal size of 3mm graded by the following:

Sieve size (mm)6.353.351.180.60.075
Percentage passing10095 – 10066 – 900 – 200 – 100 – 1.5

A dry stockpile of aggregate for mixing with salt should be maintained at each salt store sufficient to cover the route(s) run from that depot twice at 20 g/m², up to a maximum of 100 tonnes.

5.14 Grit bins and bagged salt/grit

The use of roadside open heaps is not permitted because of the risk of pollution. Bins and bags containing salt should be positioned so that leakage, spillage or vandalism does not adversely affect tree roots.

Grit bins

Grit bins are an expensive facility to manage and maintain but provide a useful means of self-help for the local community. The use and value of existing grit bins in any location must be reviewed before additional bins are considered. Grit bins should only be sited off the precautionary salting network at known trouble spots, usually in urban areas, but also in some rural locations where particularly difficult conditions exist, subject to financial restraints. Grit bins will only be considered for location on the precautionary salting network at railway level crossings (grit only) or known trouble-spots on urban footways. Grit bins should only be located where they do not present an unreasonable hazard to other highway users and can be safely accessed. Requests for new grit bins will be made to the local Neighbourhood Team who may consult local members.

Members may request the addition of a grit bin where there is a pressing community justification that may not strictly meet the above requirement, in consultation with the NHT, and using their locality budget.

Grit Bins should contain salt except at railway crossing where 100% grit must be used. Grit bins will only be used within National Parks when the Park Authority has given express permission.

Grit bins will be filled on a reactive basis when reports are received throughout the summer via the DCC online reporting system. The Contractor will ensure reports received by 30th September are actioned before 15th October so these grit bins are checked and filled before the onset of winter. Bins will be refilled during periods of prolonged freezing when they are known to have been used. As it is not cost-effective to refill an individual bin in an area, bins will only normally be refilled when a number in a locality requires replenishment. Where grit bins have been abused or vandalised, consideration will be given to removal or relocation. Grit bins will be uniquely identified with a label that provides advice on how the grit bins should be used and managed.
Neighbourhood Teams should order through the works ordering system new/replacement grit bins or to move an existing grit bin, this process will be managed by the neighbourhood teams.

The colour of the bin will be yellow or green as appropriate to the location and consideration will be given to whether lifting points are required to allow removal of the bin during summer. The inventory system must also be updated with any changes, additions or removals.

Bagged salt

Salt bags will not be placed by DCC in Parishes where a snow warden is active; the salt supplied to the parish should be used. NHT’s may provide empty salt bags if requested particularly where dumpy bags have been supplied.
The use of bagged salt should be kept to a minimum and all bags will be removed at the end of the winter period. They will be sited at known trouble spots where grit bins are not suitable due to limited space or within sensitive areas, provided that animals have limited or no access. Salt, grit or a combination of both may be used.
Any bags used should be constructed of a heavy duty material or two bags to prevent leakage. Additional salt bags are ordered through the Network Response Team.

5.15 Mutual aid

Devon County Council will normally only consider providing salt for mutual aid to other authorities when its winter service provision is not disproportionately affected and when the requesting authority:

  • has a network that directly links with Devon’s network
  • or it is not to Devon’s ultimate detriment (eg exchanging salt shipments)
  • or where the requesting authority has made suitable contingency and salt reduction arrangements, but the weather has been so exceptional to overwhelm these arrangements

6.0 Ice/snow prediction

6.1 Introduction

The correct prediction of ice and snow is a key factor of efficient winter service operations as it minimises the extent of abortive salting works whilst keeping the network as safe as possible. The County has made a considerable investment in providing the means for accurate prediction e.g. forecasts, predictive radar, and thermal mapping so that appropriate winter actions are taken.

6.2 Winter forecast – October to April


From October 2023 the weather forecast provider is MetDesk, the contract includes Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council, BCP Council (Bournemouth. Christchurch and Poole Council), and Dorset Council. During the period 1st October to 30th April inclusive (which may be extended) the County receives 3 route based forecast each 24 hours with the first received at around 11am with a 5pm update and a 6.30am morning summary.

The Network Operations Control Centre will consult with the forecaster when necessary and be able to provide further information when requested. Staff involved in winter service decision making should be trained in road weather metrology at the earliest opportunity.

Route-based forecasting (RBF)

The National Winter Service Research Group (NWSRG) has published guidance in relation to route based forecasting as detailed in Section Twelve – Weather Forecasting and Road Weather Systems sections 12.8.10 to 12.8.13 and Section Seven – Winter Service Decision Making section This guidance provides information and guidance on the use and application of RBF for winter service practitioners. Devon County Council has been using RBF as a decision making tool for many years and as of October 2023 the winter weather forecast will be a route based forecast rather than a site and domain forecast. This approach has been used by neighbouring authorities as well as others further afield.

Route based forecasts (RBF) differ from site and domain forecasts by providing a more specific summary of weather conditions for an individual salting route. This method of forecasting allows the decision maker to consider what winter action may be needed on a route by route basis rather than multiple routes that may be impacted by the same forecast sites and domains. A more selective process such as RBF can reduce the number of routes requiring a winter treatment enabling a more targeted approach. In turn this can deliver a more cost efficient service, less environmental impact, and reduce the amount of salt used each winter.

The 36-hour text forecast

MetDesk provide a 36 hour text forecast at 11am that is updated at 5pm and a 6.30am morning summary. The forecast details:

  • a general headline
  • forecast confidence level (high, moderate, low)
  • general synopsis
  • snow summary

A more detailed summary for each route from noon until midnight the following day is then provided, this details the following in tabular form:

  • min RST
  • min air temp
  • weather type by key (dry, wet, rain, dew, hoar frost, ice, snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain)
  • hoar frost
  • ice
  • snow accumulation (cm)
  • wind speed (mph)
  • visibility (km)
  • precipitation (mm)

The tables contain a hazard warning using a Red, Amber, Green (RAG) status for each route.

The need for forecast updates is specified in the contract and the forecaster is aware of the requirement to update when their monitoring of conditions indicate a divergence from the previous forecast.

2 – 5 day text forecast and 6 – 10 day outlook

This provides a general forecast 2 to 5 days ahead with an indication of alert state and hazards expected anywhere across the salting network. A summary of days 6-15 is also given for general guidance only.


Thirty seven route based forecast graphs are received for the county which provides the following information as a minimum:

  • Forecast road surface temperature
  • Forecast dew point
  • Forecast road surface condition
  • Forecast precipitation

The forecasts are automatically updated hourly, but for ease of monitoring the website also provides fixed issue graphs which allow the actual data to compare to the original forecast.

The need for forecast updates is specified in the contract and the forecaster is aware of the requirement to update when their monitoring of sites indicates divergence from the previous forecast. The update criteria, applicable for each route are, for graphs:

  • The RST crosses the zero line (either way), when not previously forecast to do so.
  • The RST crosses the zero line two hours earlier or later than forecast.
  • Change of state of ground frost/no frost, ice/no ice and snow/no snow or visa versa.
  • Change of precipitation snow/no snow or freezing rain/no freezing rain or visa versa.

6.3 Meteorological terminology

The following terminology and weather states are used in the forecasts.

The freezing of wet road surfaces:

In most cases, the road will have become wet because of rain which fell when the air temperature was above freezing point. It may also become wet because of a heavy deposit of dew, from a wet fog, by melting of a hoar frost which may have formed during the previous night or by the melting of snow. A subsequent fall in temperature of the road surface, usually due to radiation of heat to a clear night sky, causes the water film remaining on the surface to freeze. The difference between the rates of fall of temperature for various road materials due to changes in their thermal properties are small and significant differences in the ice formation on various surfaces arise only in marginal cases.

Definition of forecast terms

Air frost

This occurs when the air temperature (measured between one and two metres above the ground) falls below 0ºc.


Used to describe showers, which are associated with strong gusts of wind.


Small droplets, which fall from a low cloud. Drizzle can last for several hours and cover a large area, or be intermittent and localised.

Dry frost

The road surface temperature is 0ºC or below, with most roads expected to be dry. However, consider seepage, leaking water pipes, known hollows where dampness may persist.

Flash frost

The rapid build-up of hoar frost on roads around sunrise. The road state can change from dry to a significant cover of hoar frost within 15 minutes.


When used on the forecast hazard table: Visibility less than 200m.

Freezing fog

The fog which forms when the air temperature is below 0°C. The fog droplets remain in the liquid state but will freeze on contact with trees and other objects (Rime). The rime under some circumstances, can fall off trees and affect the road surface.

Freezing rain/drizzle

A very dangerous condition where drizzle or rain (from warmer air aloft) fall onto surfaces below freezing. The rain and/or drizzle freezes instantly causing widespread ice. Fortunately, this is rare in the UK, most likely to occur at the end of a prolonged spell of cold weather.


10 minute mean wind speed of 39mph or more. (Severe gale, mean 45 mph or more).

Heavy rain

When used on the forecast hazard table: Rainfall of an intensity which is likely to cause large amounts of surface water/ponding on the carriageway. See also rain.

High confidence

Implies that on more than 60% of occasions the forecast event will occur. In that, an event is more likely to happen than not. Amendments are unlikely

Hoar frost

Deposition of water vapour directly as ice on to ground surfaces i.e. when the road surface temperature is below both the dew point and zero. The ice forms as ice crystals and is usually highly visible. Hoar frost is more common over grass than on roads. Hoar frost on roads may quickly change to clear ice under pressure from car tyres. It requires a dew point above a below freezing road surface temperature and a low wind speed of 3 to 15 knots.

Icy patches

Used in road weather forecasts to indicate ice formation in prone areas only (gutters, dips in road surfaces, etc).

Icy stretches

Used in road weather forecasts to indicate more widespread ice.


Used to describe showers. Isolated showers imply that most places will stay dry, but somewhere in the area of coverage a shower may occur. The probability of a location having a shower will be in the range of 0-20%. Maybe abbreviated to ISOL.

Low confidence

Implies that on less than 50% of occasions the forecast event will occur. Amendments are likely.


This describes nights where the road surface temperature is expected to be very close to freezing.


Used to describe the length of cloud breaks or the amount of sunshine, generally more than two hours.


The form of snow that occurs when the air temperature is well below freezing (lower than -2°C). This form of snow is very fine (like sugar crystals), drifts very easily, but does not tend to stick to objects. It can be handled by snow blowers. Salt is usually less effective. Powder snow contains more air than wet snow and consequently requires less liquid water equivalent to produce 1cm of snow. 1cm of wet snow is usually equivalent to 1mm of liquid water, but 1cm of dry snow may only contain 0.5mm of liquid water. Thus precipitation amounts do not have to be as high to produce significant snow depths in very cold weather.


Used to describe showers, which merge producing a spell of continuous precipitation lasting one hour or more.


When used on the forecast hazard table: Rainfall over 2mm/hour at anytime over 24 hours. This is given for salt wash-off purposes only. See also Heavy Rain.

Rain or snow

When used by themselves, i.e. without the word “shower”, it means a long spell of precipitation, generally lasting more than one hour and covering a relatively large area.


Deposition of ice from freezing fog. This is a white form of ice, similar to hoar frost, but has a finer
(at times feathery) structure. On roads, this tends to be more of a problem at higher levels.


Abbreviation for road surface temperature.


Used to describe showers. “Scattered” or “occasional” showers imply that a wide covering of showers across the area expected. Many places will see a shower but one or two locations will stay dry. The probability of a location having a shower will be in the range of 30-60%. Maybe abbreviated to SCT/OCC.


Precipitation falling from convective clouds. Generally of fairly high intensity and short duration, and covering a limited area. However, showers can sometimes be widespread and prolonged. It can be assumed that shower will be of rain, unless prefixed by a qualifying word, e.g. snow, wintry shower, etc.


Frozen precipitation of a loose, semi-liquid or solid consistency

Snow amounts

These are detailed within the forecast text and given in centimetres (cm). Adjectives such as light, moderate or heavy are used to describe the expected intensity of the snow.


Used to describe the length of cloud breaks or amounts of sunshine, generally more than one hour, but less than two hours.


The likely direction the weather is going over the next two to five days, e.g. “Turning much colder with night frosts and scattered snow showers”, “cold and frosty at first, but becoming milder by Sunday”, “little change through this period”, or “remaining mild and windy”, etc.

Wet snow

Snow which falls with air temperatures close to freezing point. It melts easily and can be very sticky. In the UK, this is more common than powder snow.


Used to describe showers. The terms “frequent” or “widespread” showers imply that nearly all areas will catch a shower and most places will see more than one shower. The probability of a location having a shower will be in the range of 70-100%. Maybe abbreviated to FREQ.


Used to describe showers when the precipitation consists of a mixture of the following: rain, sleet, hail, snow pellets, snow grains (snow pellets 2-5 mm in diameter, snow grains less than 1mm in diameter).

6.4 Accessing weather information

Those directly involved in winter decision making must have easy access to weather information, and the vast majority of weather information is available via the internet, externally hosted and hence as easily available at home as at work. Websites which are not public will be password protected, and those provided with access to these sites must not divulge the access information to third parties without express permission in writing. Data collection from the ice detection sites is managed by Vaisala, made available on the web. The weather forecast is transmitted by MetDesk to Vaisala as well as being displayed on their website.

MetDesk web site (main forecast site)

Vaisala NAVIGATOR service

Met Office Severe Weather Warning

Flood warnings

DTN and Vaisala will take you to a login page where you should enter your username and password supplied by your manager. Each has a help facility which identifies abbreviations and terminology used. The Met Office and flood warnings are web pages.

Archive information

Extensive archive information prior to 1st October 2023 is available through the previous forecaster DTN and any requests should be made via the NOCC Manager or Winter Service Manager and the Vaisala system. However, this information should not be released outside the Authority without consulting either the Network Operations Manager or NOCC Manager. This is to ensure that the appropriate caveats are made concerning this data, and to ensure consistency, as some data could be misleading if taken in isolation.

Thermal mapping

Thermal mapping is no longer used and had been surpassed by RBF.

6.5 Ice detection outstations

There are 35 outstations in the County, two of which are in the footway with combinations of the following sensors: –

  • road surface temperature (all)
  • road depth temperature (forecast sites only)
  • air temperature (all)
  • wind speed (see table)
  • wind direction (see table)
  • relative humidity (all)
  • precipitation (all)
  • surface states (all)
  • web camera. (see table)
  • present weather detector (PWD – see table)
  • second road sensor (see table)
  • laser surface measurements (Craze Lowman third road sensors only – see note 2)

It is important for the integrity of the system that any sensor faults identified are promptly relayed to the NOCC by Areas, and that Area staff ensure that the sites are kept free of encroaching foliage. Repairs are to be put in hand as soon as possible with the outstation maintenance contractor who is also responsible for the calibration of the sensors before October each year, with an intermediate check in January. All personnel must be aware of sensor locations. If any maintenance works are planned to be undertaken on lengths of carriageways containing sensors, the NOCC should be consulted one month before the works. Arrangements will then be made, if necessary, for the disconnection of the sensor and subsequent replacement.

Information is also available from some adjacent highway authorities (eg National Highways, Torbay and Plymouth Councils).

Barnstaple sub-area

Eastern sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
32VaisalaA399Friendship Farm293265899, 141636ForecastYes YesYes 
33VaisalaA361Moortown Cross243282978, 121682ExtendedYes YesYes 
40Vaisala RWSB3226Little Stone105269200, 124800Basic     
 Vaisala RWSA361Mullacott Cross202251200, 144500ExtendedYes  Yes 
55VaisalaA361Taw Bridge25255044, 133187Wind only   YesTaw Bridge site only has an anemometer to monitor wind speed and direction across the new bridge.
 Vaisala RWSB3181Taw Bridge20255044, 133187Basic   Yes 
Vaisala RWCCB3358Breakneck Bridge395271487, 141042BasicYes
SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
11Vaisala RWSA3052Three Horse Shoes170318736, 091220BasicYes    
13Vaisala RWSA376Exton Camp30298766, 086100Basic     
 Vaisala ROSAA376Exmouth34298726, 086100ExtendedYes YesYes 
38Vaisala RWSA30Yarcombe260323026, 107687ForecastYes YesYes 
39Vaisala RWSB3165Raymond’s Hill200332868, 096955Basic     

Exeter sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
12Vaisala RWSA379Russell Way Exeter40295755, 90940ForecastYes YesYes 
 Vaisala RWSB3181Poltimore Bowl27297293, 95504ExtendedYes    

Ivybridge sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
5Vaisala RWSA385Marley Head140271936, 060703BasicYes    
20VaisalaA3122South Hams Hospital27273208, 44802ForecastYes  Yes 

Newton Abbot sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
7Vaisala RWSA380Telegraph Hill220290958, 082941ForecastYesYesYesYes 
10Vaisala RWSA380Kingsteignton20287809, 072377Basic     
16Vaisala RWSB3212Two Crosses90282847, 89425Basic     
17Vaisala RWSA382Slade Cross140279821, 081287Basic     

Okehampton sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
8Vaisala RWSA382Whiddon Down230269456, 092671Basic     
9Vaisala RWSB3357Rundlestone450257603, 074962ForecastYes YesYes 
21VaisalaA386Shortacombe280252443, 086465ForecastYes  Yes 
22Vaisala RWSA386Yelverton185252069, 067769Basic     
23Vaisala RWSB3362Milton Abott205240990, 78977Basic     
41Vaisala RWSA3072Hillsmoor85253195, 103714Basic     

Tiverton sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
14Vaisala RWSA377Wellparks40284429, 099617Basic     
34Vaisala RWSA396Exbridge125293339, 124195Basic     
51Vaisala RWSA3072Cadbury Cross195290779, 105250Basic     
53Vaisala RWSA361Craze Lowman100299106, 114115ForecastYesYesYesYes 

Torrington sub-area

SiteMakeRoadLocationAODO.S. grid referenceTypeWebcam2nd RSTPWDWindNote
26Vaisala RWSA388Nether Bridge55234967, 089817ExtendedYes    
27Vaisala RWSA3079Halwill Junction180244286, 099925BasicYes    
28VaisalaA388Whitebear Cross166239346, 111672ForecastYes  Yes 
30Vaisala RWSB3124Dolton Cross165258966, 113623Basic     
54VaisalaA39Waytown160236245, 122821ExtendedYes  Yes 

Note 1 – Taw Bridge site only has an anemometer to monitor wind speed and direction across the new bridge.

6.6 Adjacent authorities’ ice detection outstations

There are several other ice detection outstations for which data may be available via web sites.

OwnerSite/typeRoadDescriptionO.S. grid referenceAltitude
Cornwall CouncilVA390St Annes Chapel240400, 70929235m
Somerset CouncilV Coombeshead Cross294155, 132665 
Torbay CouncilV*A380Tyre Compton287878, 65578150m
Plymouth City CouncilV*A386Plymbridge Road251235, 5993521m
Plymouth City CouncilV Staddiscombe Rd251907, 5169593m
Plymouth City CouncilV Plymouth Centre246889, 5601621m
National HighwaysT50/V*A303Stopgate Cross232600, 109800255m
National Highways A35Axminster328152, 9795620m
National HighwaysT43/V*M5Willand304060, 11300070m
National HighwaysT44/V*#M5Junction 31293030, 08784050m
National HighwaysT45/V*#A30Cheriton Bishop278230, 093425150m
National HighwaysT46/V*A30Ebsworthy249810, 090600140m
National HighwaysT47/V*#A38Buckfastleigh274640, 06698040m
National HighwaysT48/V*A38Heathfield283700, 07625010m
National HighwaysT49/V*A38Smithaleigh259190, 05552070m
National HighwaysV*#A30Two Bridges227020, 081750110m
National HighwaysV*#A38Landrake237090, 06040080m

V – Vaisala ROSA Site

F – Findlay Irvine Site

* – Forecast Site

# – Mains powered site with present weather sensor

Map showing ice stations and weather domains

7.0 Action/operational procedures

7.1 Introduction

A good communications network is essential to ensure a speedy and effective response to winter conditions. The Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC) acts as Devon’s coordination centre for both routine winter service and severe weather emergencies. To control operations, links are required between the Network Operations Control Centre, Highway Management (HQ), Neighbourhood teams and the term contractor. This is achieved using winter service management systems which hold information on operations, weather, road conditions, routes, costs, etc.

The forecast together with other available information is considered and a proposed action is made by Highway Management (HQ) Central Decision Maker (CDM) and modified using any local condition information known to the Area Weather Contact (AWC) if appropriate. To ensure appropriate action, decisions will be determined on a route by route basis. A web-based system is in operation for recording the proposed, confirmed and actual actions. Should a problem exist with this system then the forms in Appendix 4 should be used. A check sheet/recording form which can be used if required when receiving forecast information by phone is also in Appendix 4.

7.2 Staff contact definitions

The central decision maker (CDM)

The nominated officer usually from HQ who is responsible for the initial determination of the daily action from the forecast information and acts as the central weather contact for the 24 hours from that lunchtime. Where the lunchtime and overnight CDM are different officers, there should be a briefing between the two for continuity.

Area weather contact

(AWC) A designated person (usually at Project Engineer or Highway Neighbourhood Engineer) responsible for reviewing any action proposed if necessary and discussing and agreeing on any changes with HQ contact, and confirming the lunch-time action for their area, and instructing the contractor on the action for the area.

Standby officer (SO)

The SO on duty out of normal hours to deal with incidents affecting the public highway.

Inspection person

Usually DCC SO or nominated contractor operative.

Inspection buddy

The person appointed to ‘buddy’ the Inspection Person whilst lone working, this should be arranged locally or through the NOCC

Winter service manager (WSM)

Term service contract nominated staff member with responsibility for the Contractors delivery of winter service.

7.3 Proposed Action

The action proposed, by route, will be one of the following:-

No planned action

When used

  • when no problems are foreseen and normally when forecast state is green

Action to be taken

  • no action planned. NOCC, area standby and contractor will respond if required


When used

  • when conditions are marginal and the forecast confidence level is low, including for hoar frost and snow. Also normally used following a pre-salt. Often used when forecast state is amber. DF (Dawn Freeze) qualifier added when the minimum temperature occurs after 5 am so NOCC and all staff are aware of this

Action to be taken

  • no pre-treatment planned but NOCC will monitor weather systems and consult with the forecaster as necessary. The SO will be contacted if an inspection or action decision is required. (SO to contact Inspection Buddy if needed)
  • when DF added, as above but NOCC will liaise with forecaster before 3.30 am for up-to-date assessment of forecast. Any action will need to be decided before 4.30 am to be completed before the peak travel period


When used

  • when ice, hoar-frost or snow is confidently forecast and the route is to be treated. Normally but not always used when forecast state is red. A full pre-salt of the route is also used where only wet patches are considered the potential hazard

Action to be taken

  • the route is pre-treated, at a specified time and spread rate. Spread rates can be found in section 8.3 of this document. This action may be accompanied by a Monitor to alert the SO and term contractor of the potential for further action (e.g. if salt is washed away)

7.5 Inspections

Inspections will only be undertaken when the information available through the Weather Information Systems (ice detection, weather radar etc) leaves some uncertainty about potential hazards with the state of the road surface. Any inspection must be undertaken following the standard safe working procedures and a record of the inspection maintained and reported to the NOCC.

When an inspection is requested it will be qualified with a time and a reason, and two named individuals, Inspection Person and Inspection Buddy will be identified to undertake the inspection. Examples of a reason include:


Where the roads have been pre-treated but subsequent rain may have washed the salt away to leave inadequate residual salt


To determine if ice is present


To determine the depth of snow and whether any previous treatment has been adequate

Hoar frost

To determine the existence of hoar frost – this may be difficult to determine by staff and therefore careful consideration must be given before this is used.


To determine the extent of flooding problems and would normally be undertaken at dawn.


To determine the effect of severe weather, again usually at dawn.

7.6 Residual salt

The decision to salt should include a risk assessment of the probability of ice forming against residual salt levels by considering the following factors:

  • time since last salting
  • the amount and rate of any rainfall (>2mm/h may wash-off salt)
  • surface water from various sources including runoff, absorption, leaks, etc
  • sensor information
  • method of treating dry or pre-wet
  • traffic
  • wind

Residual salt should not normally be relied on for more than 2 nights this includes the night the treatment was for– i.e. if other factors are acceptable and there was a treatment on day 1 then it may be possible to not salt on day 2 but day 3 should be treated.

7.8 Response and treatment times

When immediate winter service operations are ordered from the maintenance contractor, the response time is defined as the period between the instruction being given and arrival at the first point of salting on the route. Treatment time is defined as the period between the start and finish of spreading salt on the route, not the times of leaving and returning to the depot.

For treatments, up to 20g/m2, the response time on the pre-salting network is to be 1 hour. When undertaking a treatment up to 15g/m2, the treatment time is to be within 3 hours. Extra time should be allowed for a 20g/m2 treatment and when it is required to treat and at times of heavy traffic or when temperatures are already below zero and winter hazards may be present.

7.9 Adjacent areas – cross border routes within DCC

Where part of an Area’s network is covered by an adjacent Area’s route, the adequate liaison must be undertaken between NHT’s to ensure all routes receive the required treatment, and there is cross-boundary consistency. This is particularly important when an action results from an overnight MONITOR action or an inspection.

7.10 Other highway authorities

Each AWC must be aware of the proposed actions of the National Highways agents and other highway authorities within and adjacent to their Area including any later changes. The NOCC will liaise with the National Highways agents and inform the appropriate AWC of the proposed action, together with any later changes if there are significant differences to the Area’s earlier action. The AWC will liaise with their adjacent authorities and the AWC should then consider and amend the proposed action if appropriate in liaison with Highway and Traffic Management (HQ) contact if necessary.

The following sections of Devon County Councils highway network are salted by adjacent authorities. The relevant AWC will need to make arrangements to treat them if required when the adjacent authority are not pre-salting their roads. Detailed maps of these sections are shown in Appendix 8. A formalised arrangement has been agreed with Cornwall Council for the sections of the A39 and B3254 that are treated for Devon by Cornwall; these will be treated following Cornwall’s salting policy.

Area OfficeRoad NumberLocation/descriptionAdjacent Authority
SouthA380Torbay Ring Road, MarldonTorbay Council
SouthA379/B3205Kingswear areaTorbay Council
EastB3165Monkton Cross to Wootton CrossDorset Council
NorthA39Welcombe Cross BoundaryCornwall Council
NorthB3254Jewells Cross to Bevill’s HillCornwall Council

7.11 Extended cold periods

When temperatures are forecast to be below zero for the following 24 hour period or longer then the Secondary Routes detailed in Appendix 3 should be treated, within the available resources [including use of the whiteout fleet if appropriate]. Consideration should also be given to proactively treating high priority footways and cycleways, within available resources.

7.12 Procedure

Highway and Traffic Management (HQ) will nominate a CDM as an out of hours weather contact for each day during the winter period. An AWC is nominated for the 2 winter operational areas for each day including Saturday and Sundays during the winter period. HQ and the NHT’s will advise NOCC of their contact details no later the midday on the last working day of the week. The AWC will be responsible over the lunchtime period for agreeing the proposed action with the CDM and passing the resultant action details on to the SO. The contractors WSM will pass details of the planned treatment to the contractors’ Winter Agents. The CDM will update the Winter Action Management System with the specific actions and detailed rationale for the decision. The AWC then agrees with this action (CDM when all green NPA) and the contractor accepts the action. The NOCC will add any comments and update information relevant over the remainder of the forecast period and the contractor updates the system with completed actions.

The following set out the general action decision process and specific requirements for each of the designated actions.

General procedure: Deciding the Action over the lunchtime/early afternoon period

  1. the action will normally be recorded and managed through the web action management system WAMS where its progress can be monitored. If the system fails then the form in Appendix 4 will be used by all staff involved in the process. WAMS will automatically send emails internally and externally
  2. forecast normally received between 11.00 and 11.15 hours
  3. CDM ensures that they are fully aware of any feedback received by the NOCC that may affect the decision
  4. AWC ensures that they have obtained any appropriate feedback from area staff that may affect their area action
  5. CDM and AWC examine forecast, the CDM completes rationale and proposes action and timing for each route. Where the hazard state is AMBER or RED for any route an audio conference will be undertaken at 12:15 with the AWC and should also include the contractor and NOCC if possible. The CDM and AWC agree collectively the action and the CDM completes the action on the WAMS. CDM to brief NOCC if they cannot attend the conference
  6. each FRIDAY – Weekend SO – to liaise with colleagues and note runoff if known, major roadworks, who available for Inspection Person or Buddy if needed for Sat & Sun and actions to date
  7. AWC or CDM (green forecast NPA) confirms action asap but by 1330 hours and informs the duty SO
    ** If IT difficulties & email not possible confirm verbally to NOCC who complete form appendix 4 and circulate
    ** AWC to complete record of Actions and reasons for changing the proposal
  8. WSM confirms instruction verbally with TMC agents who confirm the action for the contractor on WAMS by 1400 hours
  9. AWC – Weekdays – if not an NPA – check SO & Inspection Person and/or Buddy as required have viewed forecast & forecast graph SO and have a hard copy to take home overnight if not easily accessible online out of hours. (** If SO’s involved cannot access forecast and graph SO, as a minimum AWC to explain and SO’s to note)
  10. AWC – Weekdays ensures details of DCC staff, undertaking Monitor and/or Inspection action as required, are provided to NOCC & known to SO. (Weekends–AWC to ensure SO briefed to do. SO to refer back to AWC or other HE if difficulties). SO’s – Weekends – to liaise with colleagues to Monitor and/or Inspect and advise NOCC. SO’s – Weekends – to also explain forecast & graphs to Inspection Person and/or Buddy
  11. AWC, when appropriate liaises with other highway authorities including trunk road maintenance authorities within and adjacent to their Area to establish their planned action. Any resulting changes to the proposed Area action, after discussion with CDM contact, if appropriate, will be communicated to the NOCC, the contractor and staff involved in the weather for the period
  12. the above target timings may need to be brought forward if the forecast time of freezing or snow dictates. (The target times may slip if forecast late and/or weather involved making the decision difficult)
  13. in the event of computer failure, the NOCC will phone forecasts to CDM and AWC by 1230 hours with agreed actions by routes phoned to the NOCC by 1400 hours
  14. NOCC examines any action information provided from adjacent highway authorities and contacts the CDM if there is any inconsistency with the Devon action that causes concern
  15. NOCC – If no action has been taken, but frost or ice is subsequently reported the SO must be informed by NOCC and if possible problem areas treated (see following box “Reports of Ice”)
  16. NOCC – If NOCC becomes aware of changes to the proposed actions of adjacent highway authorities and these give concern then the CDM, AWC or Standby contact should be informed as appropriate

General procedure: Contacts out of hours

  1. when the action is No Planned Action or Monitor the SAO contact is the SO for all issues including weather and emergencies
  2. when an Inspection is required, the SO is the contact
  3. if no action has been taken, but frost or ice is subsequently reported the SO contact must be informed by NOCC and if possible problem areas treated (see the following box “Reports of Ice”)
  4. if the NOCC become aware of any changes to the proposed actions of the adjacent highway authorities and these give cause for concern then the SAO contact should be informed and should determine whether to revise the agreed action and instruct the contractor

The following 3 sections give additional specific requirements for the defined courses of action (a) to (c):

(a) No planned action

  1. NOCC monitors road and weather conditions and liaises with the forecaster as necessary
  2. if isolated sites fall below +0.5ºC, with nearby sites not showing a similar trend, the NOCC should first determine if there is a fault with the site or if hail showers are occurring, the forecaster may also be able to advise. If there is cause for reasonable concern NOCC should discuss with CDM/AWC during the day/evening, overnight the SO should be called to investigate and determine the appropriate action and communicate it as below
  3. if there is a trend of temperatures falling below prediction in a locality; the NOCC should notify the appropriate officer when the site(s) rapidly approach or fall below +0.5ºC when ice (particularly considering runoff possibilities), hoar frost, or snow is likely to develop for investigation by the SO who then determines the appropriate action and communicates it as below
  4. if road temperatures generally drop below +0.5ºC (or are dropping rapidly to +0.5ºC) NOCC are to consult with forecaster and then call CDM contact if there is cause for reasonable concern, e.g. precipitation, runoff or snow forecast, the sensors showing adsorption, wet, frost or not enough salt. CDM contact recommends an action, if appropriate, which is communicated by NOCC to the SO(s). The NOCC amends proposed action, if appropriate in liaison with CDM contact, to take account of local conditions (after considering run-off if relevant) and communicates it as below
  5. the SO gives written or verbal instruction to the winter agent of the revised action
  6. the SO will inform NOCC of any action undertaken and WAMS updated

(b) Monitor

  1. NOCC monitors road and weather conditions and liaises with the forecaster as necessary. If the forecast temperatures are expected to remain above freezing, then follow para. 2 below. If the forecast is marginal or for hoar frost or snow when associated with a low confidence level then follow para. 3 below to allow for a later decision to be taken following consultations with the forecaster. The Monitor action is also used in conjunction with a salting action to alert the Area of the need to appoint a buddy in case an extensive inspection is subsequently required, to alert the SO that he may receive weather or salting related calls and so he needs to be familiar with the forecast. In this instance, the procedure to be followed will be as set out in the section on Pre-salt. The SO and buddy must be familiar with the appropriate forecast graphs and time of minimum temperatures. Follow one of the 3 subsections:
  2. temperatures expected to be above freezing – If isolated sites fall below +0.5ºC, with nearby sites not showing a similar trend, the NOCC should first determine if there is a fault with the site or if hail showers are occurring. The forecaster may also be able to advise. If there is cause for reasonable concern the SO should be called to investigate and determine the appropriate action and communicate it as below
  3. if the site(s) rapidly approach or fall below +0.5ºC when ice (particularly considering runoff possibilities), hoar frost, or snow is likely to develop with other nearby sites showing a similar trend the NOCC should notify the SO who will investigate, determine the appropriate action and communicate it as in para 9 below
  4. temperatures expected to be marginal or low forecast confidence of ice or snow – NOCC contacts the forecaster at appropriate intervals depending on forecast and current weather conditions for the latest weather update, particularly noting predicted minimum temperatures and timings, together with a comparison of the predicted and actual graphs and the likelihood of ice formation (particularly considering runoff possibilities), hoar frost or snow. If there is a likelihood of ice formation, hoar frost or snow then NOCC informs the SO who determines the appropriate action and communicates it as in para 9 below.
  5. if further advice is required, call the CDM Contact
  6. DF qualifier – Dawn freeze scenario – At 3 am the NOCC contacts the forecaster for the latest weather update, particularly noting predicted minimum temperatures and timings, together with a comparison of the predicted and actual graphs and the likelihood of ice, hoar frost or snow
  7. if there is any possibility of ice, hoarfrost or snow in an Area from forecaster predictions or because the actual temperatures are running below the predicted temperature graph, the SO should be informed
  8. as soon as possible but before 4.30 am if possible (to enable actions to be completed before the morning peak traffic flows) the SO should then determine which routes should be treated (after considering any relevant runoff problems). An inspection should not be undertaken at 4 to 5 am for temperature alone if the Ice Detection System indicates that these are not near or rapidly falling to freezing, but maybe undertaken to determine run-off problems if these are possible. See para 9.
  9. treatment Instruction b.9 The SO gives written or verbal instruction to the maintenance contractor of the revised action
  10. the SO will inform NOCC of any action undertaken

(c) Pre-salt

  1. the NOCC monitors road and weather conditions and liaises with the forecaster as necessary
  2. unless the pre-salt is imminent or already underway, the NOCC should notify the SAO contact (normally the SO unless an inspection has been added to this action, in which case the Inspection Person should be advised as soon as possible if forecast sites indicate road temperatures are likely to reach freezing earlier than expected or other sites are likely to reach freezing or snow falling before the pre-salt has been completed in that area. The NOCC should liaise with, and seek advice from, the forecaster determining the latest information available if there is any uncertainty about the situation, before communicating with the SAO contact. The SAO contact decides action (after considering any relevant runoff problems) and informs the NOCC who will amend the records. The SAO contact gives written or verbal instruction to the Maintenance Contractor of the revised action
  3. the maintenance contractor will be responsible for undertaking the pre-salt at the planned time and the NOCC will use GPS systems to monitor progress as far as reasonably practical to ensure all planned routes are appropriately treated. If the contractor has any problems starting the routes at the planned time he will immediately advise the NOCC and the SAO contact if appropriate. If when monitoring the GPS system, the NOCC is concerned that routes have not been treated as required by the planned action, the NOCC will call the SAO Contact so that he can resolve the problem with the contractor. Where a non GPS gritter is used the contractor is to telephone the NOCC when leaving the depot and when returning to confirm the route has been completed. [If unable to contact the NOCC on returning to the depot then the SAO contact should be informed of times]
  4. if the forecast is updated or prevailing weather conditions are difficult, especially concerning temperature and precipitation, the NOCC and relevant SAO contact will liaise before the start time to determine if the treatment should proceed, be delayed or be abandoned. Where necessary confirming or amending any planned maintenance contractor action by verbal or written instruction
  5. following the treatment, the NOCC will monitor weather conditions, particularly for precipitation. If there is rain which is heavy enough to wash the salt away (e.g. over 2mm/h) the NOCC will notify the appropriate SAO contact(s) who will give written or verbal instruction to the maintenance contractor to retreat the affected part of the network if appropriate. The maintenance contractor will inform the Area of the start and finish times at the start of the next working day
  6. if un-forecast snow is reported or snow is falling more significantly than expected, NOCC should advise the SAO contact

Monitoring of actions


  • the Area to monitor actions against instructions and road conditions and record locally
  • the maintenance contractor collates all gritting times for the previous 24 hours and updates WAMS by 0900 hours


  • the NOCC to monitor actions against instructions and road conditions and complete records by 0900 hours
  • the maintenance contractor collates gritting times over the weekend and updates WAMS by 0900 hours Monday

7.13 Reports of ice

The policy is to carry out precautionary treatment on the pre-salting network only. Ice may inevitably form on roads off the pre-salting network [80% of County roads] from time to time. The following gives guidance on the expected response.

When the pre-salt network has been treated

Reporting of ice on the pre-salt network

  • either the AWC, SO or NOCC shall instruct the contractor to inspect the location and treat if ice is present. If deemed necessary the contractor should consult with the NOCC on the need for further treatment of the wider pre-salt network

Reporting of ice off the pre-salt network

  • ice is expected to form on roads that are not part of the pre-salt network. If the police or other emergency service report a particular location which is considered to be an exceptional danger because of ice (and the nature of this exceptional danger should be clarified by the call-taker), then action will be taken on this occasion at this location in isolation [e.g. treatment, signing, road closure, etc]
  • if a member of the public reports ice then the NOCC is not expected to take any further action, but the details should be passed on when contacting the SO for another reason. If there are several reports at the same location or if it is a period of extended freezing and the location is on an Appendix 3 route; the SO Contact should be informed and only if it is considered that the location is an exceptional danger because of ice, action considered as above

When the pre-salt network has NOT been treated

Reporting of ice on the pre-salt network

  • Devon County Council (e.g. AWC) shall instruct the contractor to inspect the location and treat if ice is present, then if necessary consult with the SO on the need for further treatment of the wider pre-salt network

Report of ice off the pre-salt network

  • the NOCC should confirm, using the Ice Detection System, that temperatures are low enough (but not necessarily at freezing) for ice to be present and if so the SO should be called to either inspect the pre-salting network nearby and/or action salting of the pre-salt network as appropriate. A treatment not on the pre-salt network is not expected (but see above if the location is considered to be an exceptional danger because of ice)

7.14 Use of thermometers and cold boxes

During inspections, the thermometer probe and unit should be kept in the cold box provided whilst travelling between sites. The probe and unit should be as near as possible at the temperature of the road surface as this minimises the time taken to obtain an accurate reading, the ‘ice block’ should therefore not be frozen in a deep freezer but cooled to ‘fridge temperature’ (between 2ºC to 4ºC) otherwise it will be too cold on the majority of occasions.

7.15 Co-operation with the Police

Where routine winter service conditions prevail, the Network Operations Control Centre will liaise regularly with the Police Control Rooms. Regular contact will also be maintained with the local police in the Areas most affected by winter weather conditions.

7.16 Communication systems

Staff providing an emergency response (most SOs), rely on their mobile phones and must carry sufficient coins to be able to make use of public phones in areas or at times of restricted coverage. It is known that the mobile phone network can be unreliable during emergencies (when there is a very high demand for the network) and staff on duty should be alert to such occasions and contact the NOCC via landline to see if any calls are waiting for their response. It is County policy that mobile phones must not be used whilst driving.

7.17 Contacts and staff rotas

Contact names are held by the NOCC and available on The Devon Highways Hub. The NOCC needs to be given lists of standby contacts in advance, (e-mailed to the NOCC to cover a minimum period of one week) both in and out of hours, by the Neighbourhood Offices and Highway Management (HQ).

7.18 Christmas, New Year and Easter Arrangements

To share the duties over Christmas, New Year and Easter; Neighbourhood Offices and Highway Management (HQ) provide a rota of personnel who may be contacted. This information is collated and sent out to all relevant parties. Weekend procedures apply during this period.

7.19 Health and safety

The County has health and safety procedures in place, reference should be made to the task-specific and generic risk assessment stored on the Devon Highways Hub. Operation and maintenance of the prewet equipment and saturators can be found in Appendix 9

7.20 Records

Local offices must keep a ‘winter file’ to record all action decisions and reasons together with any other reports, responses and outcomes as a defence for any claims that may be received.

7.21 Freezing rain

The very nature of freezing rain means that it is difficult to predict, and pre-treatment will have virtually no initial effect – consequentially ice will form for a time. The NOCC should notify the police and the local media to broadcast bulletins to advise the public to avoid travelling in the area. Wherever possible, VMS will be used to convey the message to drivers approaching the affected area along with social media.

If freezing rain is predicted, and when time permits, the part of the network predicted to be affected should be treated in advance. All available spreaders (including white-out fleet) should be loaded, when freezing rain is predicted and when time permits, be stationed across the part of the pre-salt network likely to be affected to enable spreading to commence as the rain falls, concentrating on routes in priority order as set out in the snow plan. During the period all County and contractors’ staff should proceed with extreme caution and be prepared to suspend operations if conditions present an unacceptable danger.

7.22 Operational considerations regarding the safety of gritter drivers

When the weather forecast is considered at lunchtime, the client decision-maker in conjunction with a contractor representative (duty manager) will consider the risk for gritter drivers when they may be required to undertake treatment and for those undertaking inspections. The risk will be categorised as follows:

Risk of ice/frostScenarioReason
Lowice or frost not expected at the planned time of treatment.treatment is undertaken before freezing temperatures occurring.
Moderatesub-zero road temperatures and ice or frost are possible, although the road may have been previously treated.treatment is undertaken when roads are below freezing (eg overnight re-treatment) Ice or frost possible but not certain.
Highhigh probability of the presence of ice on the salting network.treatment when rain is expected on freezing roads, freezing rain, or snow which could be compacting to ice.

In the low-risk scenario, drivers should be aware of the need to treat as close to the treatment time as safely as possible as this will be the decision maker’s assumption in planning the action. In medium and high risk, it is accepted that treatment may take longer as the driver will need to take extra care with the heightened risk.

It will be the responsibility of the contractor’s duty manager to ensure this information is communicated to the drivers and Area Weather Contacts to communicate with those on standby (including staff undertaking inspections when required). Where the NOCC receive updated information that suggests the risk will increase – this will be communicated to the contractor duty manager for onward communication to drivers, and those undertaking inspections.

The contractor will determine what procedures are required to discharge their duty of care to the drivers in light of the varying levels of risk.

7.23 Roads too dangerous to treat

There will be some occasions in the high-risk scenario where the driver considers that it would be too dangerous to continue with the treatment. In this situation the following procedure will be adopted:

  1. as soon as the driver has concerns about the safe passage of the gritter they should contact their supervisor and discuss the situation, to determine an appropriate course of action
  2. if it is agreed between the supervisor and driver that it is not safe to continue, the Gritter driver will remain within the vehicle and await support from Winter Agent
  3. the supervisor will arrange for a resource to be dispatched to determine the extent of the problem, ensuring that adequate arrangements are in place to manage the safety of this resource and the driver onsite
  4. the supervisor will contact the NOCC and advise them of the situation and the NOCC will advise the police and media of the situation and actions being taken
  5. the supervisor will then assess the extent of the problem and determine if the area affected can be signed using ICE signs and whether the gritter or other resources can complete the route in a safe manner avoiding the dangerous area. If it is viewed that the road is unsafe for any traffic reasonable attempts should be made, in consultation with the police (using the NOCC), to close the road until it is safe

7.24 Effectiveness of action

There are several factors which affect public safety and cost of winter service and these are monitored. The County Council is currently using winter service management systems including GPS fitted to the front line fleet allowing monitoring of operations and highlights areas where improvements can be made.


The forecasts received from the forecaster dictate to a large extent the action that is proposed. Accuracy is therefore of prime importance to avoid abortive work, hence mean errors, standard deviations and whether frosts were accurately forecast are all monitored. The DCC will take up significant errors with the forecaster.

Action taken/actual conditions

This will be monitored to measure the extent of abortive work or dangerous road conditions.

Response/treatment times

Highway Management will monitor their contractor’s performance to ensure that response and treatment times are being met so that conditions are as safe as is reasonably possible for highway users.

Salt usage

A check of actual salt use should be made, by the measure of salt stocks at the end of winter, monitored against salt operations ordered.

Financial monitoring

Expenditure is to be monitored and will be compared to Actions Taken

8 Ice Treatment

8.1 Introduction

Pre-treatment is by far the most effective course of action when dealing with ice and snow.

8.2 Road surface wetness

To determine treatments, a distinction is made between dry, damp and wet road surfaces. Definitions for use when making treatment decisions are as follows.

Dry road

  • a road that shows no signs of water or dampness at the surface but maybe just detectably darker (however it may have moisture contained in pores below the surface that is not ‘pumped’ to the surface by traffic)

Damp road

  • a clearly dark road but traffic does not generate any spray. This would be typical of a well-drained road when there has been no rainfall after 6 hours before the treatment time

Wet road

  • a road on which traffic produces spray but not small water droplets. This would be typical of a well-drained road when there has been rainfall up to 3 hours before the treatment time

8.3 Salting – spread rates

Devon County Council has considered the recommendations in Practical Guidance Spread Rates for Precautionary Salting issued by the NWSRG appending the NCoP Well Managed Highway Infrastructure. Devon County Council has sought to interpret and adopt this advice as far as reasonably practicable. The tables provide the minimum spread rates that should be applied given the various weather scenarios but are on the basis that there is no residual salt. If residual salt is considered present as described in Section 7.6, this must then be justified, and the rates adjusted accordingly. As research has shown salt losses do not increase significantly in high traffic situations and given the variability of traffic levels along each route there is an assumed ‘Medium Traffic’ level situation around the time of operation the higher spread rates for high traffic situations has not been applied. However, where treatment is planned to start after 9.15 pm the very low traffic table must be applied. There are 2 tables, one assumes that the gritter has been calibrated to “good”. Where gritters are not calibrated to “good” for example the spinner looks like it has been knocked or dry salt is being spread rather than pre-wet, higher rates of spread should be used as in the FAIR table.

Wind speed and direction can affect the spreading of salt and in dry conditions, can also affect the length of time salt remains on the road surface. It should also be noted that when a forecast predicts mean wind speeds these typically relate to those at a height of 10 metres above the ground and these are not likely to be the same the closer to the road surface. Where possible all treatments should be avoided during periods when mean wind speeds are predicted to be 20mph or more. If this can’t be avoided consideration should be given to residual salt and routes where greater exposure to winds are likely to be an issue such as open moorland. If it is deemed necessary to increase the spread rate a factor of 20% should be applied. If the spread rate then exceeds 20gsm, additional treatment should be considered. All salt is stored under cover, except for the bagged saturator salt which is sheeted.

The dry spread rates are based on a tested salt moisture content of between 1.5% and 4% which is typical for barn-stored salt in Devon. The prewet spread rates are based on the moisture content of less than 4%. There are practical difficulties in spreading salt in one pass greater than 20g/m² and it may be difficult to get more than one or two treatments down before the winter hazard occurs. Therefore, treatments have been limited to 20g/m² for practical reasons and the situation should be monitored and retreated at an appropriate level if there is any cause for concern.

The action will indicate the pre-wet GOOD spreading capability treatment, and where locally the vehicle does not meet this criterion, the driver will convert this rate of spread to that appropriate for their vehicle. This conversion process will be based on these tables and re-enforced through toolbox talks.

8.4 Pre-wet salt spreading

All frontline gritters can spread pre-wet salt and this should be used whenever possible. The spread rate on the control box should be set to the specified rate of spread, e.g. 10g/m², then when pre-wet is selected the control box automatically adjusts the rate of spread of dry salt from the hopper to 7.0g/m² to take account of the salt being applied in the brine solution which contributes the other 3.0g/m² including water. A pre-wet gritter will automatically spread at the dry rate if it runs out of the brine. Details of the safe working and operational procedure for pre-wet salt spreading are given in Appendix 9.

8.5 Extended periods of freezing conditions

On occasions, the RST’s will remain at or below 0ºC throughout a single forecast period. During this time consideration should be given to further treatments to ensure adequate salt has been applied to the road surface. For example, on occasions, early treatment will be actioned in the afternoon for a forecasted hazard and the appropriate spread rate applied for those conditions, decision-makers may then decide a further treatment would be appropriate before dawn to supplement this action. Factors to be considered may include run-off and standing water.

8.6 Spread rate tables

A spread rate table.

The treatments above should be undertaken in one pass wherever possible, except when annotated as two treatments. The action plan should identify the timing required for each treatment.

A spread rate table

The treatments above should be undertaken in one pass wherever possible, except when annotated as two treatments. The action plan should identify the timing required for each treatment.

9 Snow treatment

9.1 Introduction

Highway Authorities have a statutory duty under the Highways Act Section 41(1A) to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, safe passage along the highway and under Section 150 to remove obstructions. Snow is considered to be an obstruction when it impedes the use of the highway and will be removed as soon as practicable and conditions allow within the resources available.

9.2 Snow plans

Severe Weather and Emergency Response Plan

Section 12 details the County level Severe Weather and Emergency Response Plan (SWERP) which will be invoked during a widespread snow event. This plan details the activation, communication and roles required to manage such an event. This plan will marry with Local Snow Plans and follow the defined framework with this plan to provide details of organisation and snow clearance at a local level.

The SWERP will provide a strategic overview for managing a large-scale event, whilst the Local Snow plans will give the detail of priorities within the area. Any movement of the plant between across the county can only be agreed by the Lead Officer managing the event at County level.

The local snow plan

The Snow Plan should be a complete document setting out priorities in tabular and map form together with full details of how the County Council’s and the Term Contractor’s plant should be allocated to routes and areas. There should also be a schedule and allocation plan of other plant and manpower resources together with emergency contact details.

The plan should include reporting sheets which list the A and B roads, broken down into suitable sections that can be used to report the road status during an event to the NOCC and Local Control Point, using standard reporting nomenclature as defined in section 1.5.

Liaise with border colleagues to assist with clearance after their roads are passable with care should be undertaken at the local level.


There are 4 separate areas to be prioritised:

The reduced salting network

This will be the core network that will be treated and cleared if circumstances dictate. It will consist of just over half the normal salting network as defined in section 2 of this plan. The requirement to fall back to this network will be determined by the Lead Officer in consultation with senior management at a countywide level and may be used, for example, if salt supplies become unavailable.

The salting network

A priority list of roads within the Local should be drawn up starting with the major through roads, or parts thereof in consultation with adjacent Areas and working down through other roads in Maintenance Category order that make up the pre-salting network including the accesses to Emergency Service establishments.

Pedestrian and Cycle Routes

Priorities should be established so that routes with the highest flows are cleared first, e.g. commuter cycle routes together with footways in town centres, shopping areas and where there are high numbers of pedestrian traffic, i.e. footway category 1. Residential areas and less used footways should be cleared (following the footway and cycleway category priority) as resources become available.

Other Routes

The Local should be split into smaller areas to be supervised by an NHO and the remaining road network in each prioritised as follows:

  1. highways to other important locations, critical infrastructure, essential industrial and military establishments, mainline stations, bus garages and shopping centres
  2. other commuter routes
  3. single accesses to villages, hamlets, rural communities and schools
  4. residential roads
  5. roads to farms


During the summer period, the provision of plant required to implement the snow plans should be discussed with the term maintenance contractor and suitable equipment identified from their lists of suppliers. The Local Snow Plans should be issued to the term contractor. Similarly, enquiries should be made with local companies that may have the manpower available to clear snow from footways and cycle routes.

Farmers and contractors within or near the Local who own tractor-mounted snow blowers should be contacted to confirm their continued availability and details passed to the term maintenance contractor.


The front line gritter fleet should be allocated to clear the major routes, in priority order supported as necessary by vehicles from the reserve fleet and hire plant. When these are passable plant can be allocated to other routes on the salting network and then directed to clear routes within each HS’s area.
Manual staff should commence clearing footways and cycle routes in shopping areas and then to work through the priority list.

9.3 Severe weather warnings

Areas will be informed of snow conditions through the weather information systems. The Met Office will probably issue severe weather warnings if any sizeable falls are expected (severe weather warnings are detailed in Section 13) and further details may be available through the NOCC.

9.4 Action to be taken upon receipt of snow warning

The following table is intended as guidance on clearing snow under varying conditions. Pre-wet spreading should be used when possible.

Guidance on snow clearing

Precautionary treatments before the snow

Weather conditionsTreatment
Light snow forecastSpread
• 40g/m² of pre-wetted salt
• 40g/m² of dry salt
Moderate/Heavy snow forecastSpread
• 20-40g/m² of pre-wetted salt
• 20-40g/m² of dry salt

The treatment should be spread in one pass where possible. If there is insufficient capacity to achieve this, vehicles should spread at the specified rate and refill as necessary. The treatment time will be extended and the start time will need to be adjusted by the accordingly. Where there is only a short time available then both the front line and reserve fleets should be mobilised to work in tandem. It is suggested that both vehicles spread at half the specified rate with the reserve vehicle leading, when it runs out off salt it returns to the depot to reload and the front line vehicle continues spreading at the full rate. When the reserve vehicle returns it continues as above or spreading at the full rate to allow the front line vehicle to return and reload if necessary.

On receipt of snow warning, the following procedure should be carried out:-

  1. ensure all ploughs are easily available and ready for fitting
  2. pre-salt the salting network, following the above table, immediately before the snow falling to prevent snow settling on the road surface
  3. fix ploughs to vehicles if significant accumulations or drifting is expected. This should be decided route by route locally and not be actioned too early as it makes the vehicle more difficult to manoeuvre. Start ploughing as soon as snow becomes deep enough to plough, i.e. approximately 50mm in depth
  4. after ploughing, treat un-compacted snow with salt at 10g/m² per 25mm of snow and re-plough to remove slush
  5. when prolonged falls are forecast it will be found useful to continuously plough from the onset of snow to prevent build up and to prevent compaction by traffic. Such ploughing can be combined with simultaneous salting at 20-40 g/m² so that a wet base is maintained. However, once snow depths of 120mm have been reached, or when tackling snowdrifts or where vehicles are operating on gradients, it may be desirable to continue ploughing without salting. The weight of a salt load will aid vehicle traction when ploughing
  6. on dual carriageways ploughing should be undertaken by lanes, generally starting with the nearside
  7. after ploughing, further treatment of salt is required at the rate of 10g/m² for every 25mm of un-compacted snow for each degree Centigrade that the air temperature is below freezing (see note 8 below)
  8. as the snow melts under the action of salt, keep ploughing to remove slush
  9. if snow has become compacted and the temperature is low (-5ºC or below) neat salt must not be used, as it will accumulate in the form of salt solution in depressions and produce a very uneven and slippery running surface. In these circumstances spreading of grit is advised
  10. a 50/50 grit/salt mix should be used on compacted snow. Grit is not required on un-compacted snow as the action of the salt will cause the snow to melt allowing the slush to be removed easily by ploughs
  11. very low temperatures do not usually follow immediately after a snowfall and it is therefore very important to apply salt early, plough early, salt again and get the resultant slush off the road before compaction by traffic

9.5 Snow blower procedures

The five snow blowers are mounted on the front of tractors enabling then to be easily deployed across the County. Procedures are in place to ensure that snow blowers can be put into action as soon as conditions make it necessary, and also that the crews operating the machines are suitably equipped to operate safely in extreme weather conditions. A system of control has been laid down which will enable the progress of snow clearing work to be monitored and for assistance to be given to the crew in the event of any mishap.

9.6 Deployment

Five snow blowers are based in depots at South Molton, Parracombe, Honiton, Newton Abbot and Okehampton. These snow blowers will be brought into action as necessary on the instruction of the Area.

9.7 Level crossings

Salt must not be spread between the stop lines of all Network Rail level crossings, even when covered with snow (see Section 2.6).

Before ploughing over a level crossing the driver must stop and telephone the signalman for permission to proceed and then inform the signalman when past the crossing. The crossing telephone can be used or telephone Network Rail Control on 01793 515 410.

Snow blowers must not be used between the stop lines of all level crossings.

Snow blowers location map

Map showing the locations where the snowblowers are stored

9.8 Standard terminology for reporting road status in snow conditions

The Police and the County Council have produced a coding system for describing the status of routes affected by snow. The following codes are for operational use and all come under the classification “Impassable” when reporting to the public, the media or other external organisations:

INBCImpassable, not being cleared.
IBCImpassable, being cleared.
EMV/4WDEmergency vehicles and 4-Wheeled Drive only.
PNAPPassable, not available to the public.
SLOSlow lane only / no overtaking
PECPassable with extreme care, snow is still present over road length.
PCPassable with care, isolated areas of snow.
RCRoad closed.

When making reports to NOCC, Inspectors should also include the general conditions of side roads as well as those on the inspection route.

9.9 Hire of labour/drivers

In severe conditions when the maintenance contractor is fully committed, Areas may directly engage additional labour/drivers. District Council contractors should be engaged wherever possible, but failing this, labour can be engaged as follows:-

Casual road employees

Personnel recruited by the Council through the Department of Employment offices and other local sources who are brought temporarily on to the Council’s establishment, to be paid the appropriate wage rate laid down by the National Joint Council for Local Authorities’ Service with no bonus entitlement and proportionately reduced rates for youths.

Where Local Labour is recruited in villages, some persons of authority in each village must be made responsible for locally organised groups and collect and certify the timesheets of each person employed.

Contract labour by local builders

Where local builders and contractors are employed on a contract labour basis the following payment formulae to be applied as a maximum:-

  1. cost of net labour (net labour being wages paid following the current Working Rule Agreement)
  2. add to the total of (i) up to 17½% to cover common law and public liability, National Insurance, holiday with pay and establishment expenses. Then add the actual amount properly payable in respect of value-added tax if appropriate. It must be clearly understood that the County Council will not pay more than recognised trade agreement rates and the payment for working foreman or charge-hands will only be accepted if the employment was previously authorised. As a general rule, the labour rate should be that applicable to labourers, official orders must be raised in respect of all work under this heading

Assistance by farmers and agricultural contractors

Farmers, agricultural contractors and others who offer the use of their plant and operators during extended periods of snow should be directed to the term maintenance contractor. This and any other additional plant required can be ordered and paid for through the term contract series 4800.
The Devon Procurement list of approved contractors Contract DP18/1 no longer applies.

9.10 Post-snow emergency action

The following work shall be undertaken after a snow emergency:

  1. thoroughly wash down all vehicles and lubricate gritting equipment
  2. check all equipment and repair or replace all worn parts on snow ploughs, report on plant performance to Highway Management.
  3. Network Response Team should be informed of salt stock levels to allow them to be replenished as necessary
  4. inspect roads for frost damage and carry out any remedial works necessary to make the carriageway safe
  5. inspect bridges and culverts liable to flooding – ensure that they are clear of debris
  6. carry out a survey of badly affected locations (within 7 days) reporting to Highway Management including a generalised assessment of other frosts/snow/flood damage
  7. sign defects where appropriate, ensuring “flood” boards and other relevant signs are available
  8. Highway Management to evaluate overall performance, recommending changes to procedures to be incorporated into this document and areas should forward comments for consideration

10 Media

10.1 Introduction

Contact via the media is an important way of keeping road users informed of adverse conditions and promoting safety on the highway. Media coverage of winter service and emergency operations plays a necessary part in making the public aware of the service provided and how vital the service is to the community.

It is therefore important that NOCC receives frequent updates from local teams on the local situation, preferably by utilising the Microsoft Teams space dedicated to the weather event, an email to NOCC or telephone calls if no other option available. As a minimum; an overnight summary should be provided to the NOCC by 8.30 am, with morning update reports at 11 am and afternoon reports by 3 pm to include details of important highways affected, together with men and resources deployed (a good estimate is sufficient).

10.2 Public information/media coverage

If the public is kept informed by contact with the community and road users, winter operations will more effective and better understood.

The County, therefore, makes use of several means of communication which include:-

  • plan of the salting network
  • media releases relating to winter service and particular highway incidents
  • media articles
  • radio/television interviews
  • information passed through motoring organisations and local radio stations
  • the Devon County Council web site
  • social media e.g. Twitter @devonalert

Part of the role of the Network Operations Control Centre staff is to collate the countywide highway situation in winter and severe weather conditions from information, largely provided by local teams, and issue regular reports to senior management, emergency services, and the media. The NOCC staff must receive situation updates within the prescribed deadlines to enable credible media statements and interviews to be actioned.

The schedule below indicates the times at which the NOCC may be contacted for information during winter or severe weather event.

06.00 Radio stations make initial contact to establish the overnight picture
06.10 First ‘live’ broadcasts may be required
06.00 – 09.00 Media require details of events in their area
09.00 Summary required by Senior Management and Media office
11.30 – 13.00 Midday broadcasts on local radio
16.00 Morning papers require the latest information
17.00 – 19.00 Evening radio and Television may require information/broadcasts
21.00 – 22.00 Occasional evening broadcasts may be required (especially for snow)

10.3 Photographic records

If in an emergency, an unusual situation arises, high priority must be given to obtaining photographic records. Local teams should arrange to have photographs taken in all winter emergencies.

10.4 Use of variable message signs

Devon County Council has variable message signs (VMS) across the county, particularly in Exeter, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot and on the North Devon Link from the M5 to Barnstaple.

These signs will be used to reinforce messages to the travelling public about winter driving conditions, winter road safety and other weather-related travel information when they are not required for higher priority messages, and when it is appropriate to do so.
Information may be automatically generated for these signs from, for example, data from the ice detection system when temperatures fall below freezing, or when wind speeds exceed pre-defined trigger levels and may include forecast information.

Whilst it is the drivers’ responsibility to ensure that they are driving according to the prevailing weather conditions, this information can assist in making drivers more aware of the environment in which they are driving.

Examples of messages will include:

Risk of ice
High winds
Gritting in progress
Risk of ice

11 Major Emergencies

11.1 Introduction

If a major emergency occurs in Devon, it is inevitable that the Place Directorate will be involved, as most major emergencies will affect the highway network. Typical recent events have included major flooding, collisions involving heavy goods vehicles with dangerous chemicals and factory fires involving large scale evacuations. This chapter will clarify the terminology used within emergency planning and set out what may be expected from this Directorate.

11.2 Definitions

An emergency is defined by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 as an event or situation which threatens serious damage to:

  • human welfare
  • the environment
  • the security of the United Kingdom

Serious damage to human welfare may involve:

  • loss of life
  • illness or Injury
  • homelessness
  • damage to property
  • Disruption to the supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel.
  • Disruption to electronic or other forms of communication.
  • Disruption to transport.
  • Disruption to health services

Serious damage to the environment may involve:

  • contamination of land, water or air with biological, chemical or radio-active matter
  • disruption or destruction of plant or animal life

A major incident is an emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of the emergency responders provided it meets one of the following conditions:

the emergency is likely to obstruct the organisation seriously in the performance of its functions, or it is likely that the organisation:

  1. would consider it necessary or desirable to take action to prevent the emergency, to reduce, control or mitigate its effects, and
  2. would be unable to take that action without changing the deployment or acquiring additional resources

11.3 Lead co-ordinating Agency

The Police will lead the co-ordination of the response to most major incidents, particularly sudden impact emergencies and weather-related incidents such as flooding. The response to some other emergencies will be co-ordinated by other Agencies, these will be identified as part of the Community Risk Register, and examples include:

  • the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) lead on Search & Rescue at Sea and with Local Authorities collaborate over maritime pollution emergencies
  • the Health Service leads for public health outbreaks
  • the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) takes the leads for animal disease outbreaks

11.4 Directorate response

In the early stages, the Network Operations Control Centre will be the first point of contact for highway-related issues and will advise the duty Area contact (duty NHO/PT out of hours) with details of what the police require. Whether the event has been declared a major emergency and whether a Tactical (Silver) Control has been established. Emergency Planning will often be contacted through the NOCC.

When the duty Area officer arrives on sites the following actions should be undertaken:

  • liaise with local Police on-site to determine what traffic management and road closures are needed
  • determine if a Tactical (Silver) Control has or is being established and where it is
  • determine other useful information about the incident (e.g. likely duration, exclusion zones, diversions etc)
  • report all this information to the NOCC

If evacuations are required Transport Coordination may be asked by Emergency Planning to provide transport from the incident to a rest centre.

11.5 Relevant documents

  • county emergency response plan
  • Devon flood warning and response plan
  • temporary mortuary plan

11.6 Severe weather emergency response plan


This document is designed for operational use with checklists, agendas and procedures to aid an operational response. It will also detail some key useful information that may be required in an emergency but does not seek to replicate information available in the Winter Service and Emergency Plan.

The purpose of this plan is to provide an operational overview of the key roles and operation of Highways Management in the event of severe weather or other highway-related emergencies that requires more than a local (within an area) response. However, some of the principles used within this plan may be relevant to other situations. It is not intended that the plan will cover the details of area responses (eg which roads to give priority to) but will provide the handle into such local plans and detail the minimum criteria that they should contain.

MACCmulti-agency conference call
GoldPolice strategic management of emergency – may involve partner agencies
SilverPolice tactical control
Bronzeemergency services local operational control
SWERPthis plan
WSPwinter service and emergency plan
ERAextreme rainfall alert
NOCCNetwork Operations Control Centre
LRFLocal Resilience Forum
EPOEmergency Planning Officer

Criteria for activation

The plan should be activated by a manager within the group when there is sufficient information to suggest that there is a reasonable likelihood of a widespread event that could cause significant disruption to the travelling public. Whilst this is a judgement call there are various tools available to assist with this judgement, and it is better to initiate the plan and then stand-down than to initiate the plan too late.

Examples of information that will assist in determining whether to activate the plan:

  • severe weather warnings
  • extreme rainfall alerts
  • flood guidance statements
  • severe tidal flood warnings
  • weather forecasts
  • multi-agency (Environment Agency, emergency services, adjacent highway authorities etc) conference calls

The type of forecast scenarios that may require activation are:

  • county-wide snow-falls (eg > 10cm)
  • extreme rainfall event leading to county-wide flooding
  • severe tidal flooding on one or both coasts

The activation is most likely to be undertaken by the duty manager of the Network Operations Control Centre. If other managers feel that the plan should be activated they should consult with the NOCC manager and then agree with its activation.

Where possible it is preferable that the plan is initiated in working hours so that an initial conference call can be undertaken and staff prepared for future action. Therefore this may occur when there is less certainty over the event. The advantage is that it will be easier to contact staff and make initial arrangements and then stand down if not needed than to have the additional difficulty of contacting appropriate staff out of hours.

Multi-agency conference calls (MACC)

As a result of the Pitt Report, agencies responsible for responding to flooding incidents are being encouraged to engage in advanced communication to co-ordinate an appropriate response to the emerging situation. This is not to be confused with a gold conference call when a major incident has been declared by the emergency services. These calls may be initiated with a codeword to differentiate them from a gold conference and the current proposal is DEVFLOODCON or FLOODCON. These may be called by any agency and will enable discussion about:

  • current situation in the county or Local Resilience Forum (LRF) area
  • interpretation of warnings or alerts that have been received
  • the impact expected by each agency
  • planned response by each agency
  • areas needing special consideration
  • planning for or likelihood of SILVER and/or GOLD being established
  • the need for further conference calls

Anyone at Highway Engineer/duty NOCC manager level or above may be required to attend this conference (normally by a conference telephone call from wherever they are currently based) on behalf of the Directorate (Emergency Planners from DCC may also be involved) and should ensure they are briefed about the current situation and understand the potential impact on the highway network. Their responsibility is to understand what other agencies are doing and what is the appropriate response for the Directorate. This information should be relayed to the NOCC and others that need to follow-up on the actions.

The MACC may help to determine whether this plan needs to be activated or form part of the liaison once the plan has been activated. Senior managers at Head of Service or Director level should be informed when these conferences occur, so they are aware at the level of preparedness.

Action by NOCC

On receipt of a call requesting a MACC/FLOODCON /DEVFLOODCON (eg from EA or other agency):

  • contact duty Emergency Planning Officer (unless it is the EPO who is calling). It is their responsibility to arrange the conference call with external agencies
  • gather details from the EPO

time of conference call
attendees required (HQ, area, and HA)
the telephone number for call
participant passcode

  • contact NOCC manager or HQ weather contact to attend the conference call
  • contact Area Manager or area weather contact to attend conference call in the area affected, if available
  • contact Highways England Regional Control Centre and request that a manager also dials into this conference call
  • advise Head of Highway Management or Director unless agreed with NOCC Manager that they will advise

If a NOCC manager or HQ weather contact assesses that a MACC would be useful, they should discuss this with the duty EPO and then activate this procedure with the NOCC and EPO.

Activation of SWERP

When it is determined that this plan should be implemented, the following actions should be undertaken:

  1. NOCC Manager (or lead officer) to determine an appropriate time to hold an initial conference call, which should be at least one hour and ideally two hours ahead to give staff time to be contacted. Relay following information to NOCC watchkeeper:
  • SWERP activated
  • brief nature of the emergency
  • time of conference call
  • telephone number and passcode for the conference call


2. NOCC watchkeeper to contact each and pass information declared in 1. above


3. NOCC watchkeeper to contact each Area – either through the Area Weather Contract (winter) or an Area Standby (one of a number on duty in the area) if not in winter, with the information declared in 1. above


4. the person who is contacted in the area is responsible for invoking the area procedure to ensure an Area Manager and anyone else the Area Manager considers appropriate to dial into the conference call at the designated time


5. the NOCC manager or lead officer is responsible for informing:

  • Senior Management at Head of Service or Director level
  • other HQ staff that may assist with the response
  • Corporate Communications press officer (if available)
  • Emergency Planning Duty Officer (if appropriate)
  • Customer Service Centre Manager (if appropriate and available)
  • Term Contractor senior manager (who may cascade to area managers or agents)


Audio-conferencing in DCC normally uses a Microsoft Teams meeting. A calendar appointment will be sent to all participants and this meeting may be recorded for record-keeping.

Initial SWERP conference call agenda

The agenda for the initial conference call, which will be chaired by the Lead Officer or HQ manager if Lead Officer not designated, will be:

1. a summary of why the SWERP has been activated

2. summary of available weather information and warnings issued

a. 24-hour forecast
b. Severe weather warnings
c. Flood guidance and Extreme Rainfall Alerts (if issued)
d. Other warnings in place (Flood, tidal etc)
e. Advice from the Met Office

3. assessment of the potential and probable impact of the event

4. multi-agency arrangements and information

a. information from other gold/FLOODCON conferences
b. emergency planning arrangements/GOSW/LRF
c. adjacent highway authorities

5. reports from each area of current highway status and impact

a. north area
b. east area
c. south area

d. west area

6. proposed response action required to event (see next section)

7. resources required for a response

a. client staffing
b. contractor staffing
c. plant
d. materials (eg salt)

8. designation of key officers in HQ and Areas (if not clear at the meeting they must be designated within 1 hour of meeting closing)

9. media arrangements

10. time of next conference call (to be determined by nature and timing of the event, availability of further information etc)

Action response required to the event

The action required will vary depending on the nature of the event but the following will give some useful guidance to be considered.


  • WSEP gives general guidance on how to deal with snow events
  • snow clearance operations are best undertaken during daylight hours
  • if heavy snow is forecast to fall overnight, continuous treatment on the major (presalt) network will provide the best platform for snow clearing operations, the following morning
  • consider police/emergency service requests for assistance
  • consider adjacent highway authorities

Heavy rain

  • consider politically sensitive and vulnerable areas, both in terms of flash flooding and fluvial flooding
  • consider what pragmatic mitigation can be undertaken (eg clearing key culverts of the debris before onset)
  • consider major events (eg County Show) – can suitable resources be deployed nearby on routine maintenance works?
  • refer to Devon Flood Warning and Response Plan


  • consider areas requiring specific responses (eg Slapton)
  • consider politically sensitive and vulnerable areas
  • consider which coast may be affected and effect on resources

Management of event

The Lead Officer will determine the frequency and for how long the conference calls will be required. These will provide the main facility for managing the event from a Directorate perspective and the interplay with other conference calls that may be undertaken (County, gold, MACC etc) will determine if any external factors need to be considered.

The conference calls should provide a useful vehicle for engaging with staff in the Area teams, pooling expertise and ensuring that strategic decisions that need to be taken can be well-informed. Only the Lead Officer must make the final strategic decision, especially regarding the movement of resources, being the one with the full overview of the event.

It is also important that decisions taken at the conference calls are acted upon by the area staff and others engaged with the conference. Any concern must be raised at the appropriate stage during the call, otherwise, effective management is lost and the County could become vulnerable. It is the Lead Officers responsibility to ensure areas have the opportunity to engage with the process.

The roles and responsibilities should provide an effective mechanism to clarify who is responsible for what in the response.

Conference calls must be disciplined and strongly chaired as there can be many attendees and the meeting can be lost if attendees talk over each other. Records and any minutes of the meeting should be recorded using OneNote and uploaded onto the Microsoft Teams page Storm Events under the relevant event.
It is recommended that whilst a response is or may be required, conference calls occur at least once a day for continuity, and during the winter, 1300 is recommended to co-inside with the availability of the forecast.

Roles and responsibilities

The roles identified below are essential to the effective operation of the Plan. They are not specifically related to “rank” but should be undertaken by a suitably senior person who has the relevant training and experience to undertake the task effectively. It is the responsibility of senior management to ensure the designations are suitably endorsed.

The roles defined are:

  • Lead officer
  • Support officer / NOCC Manager
  • Admin Support Officer
  • Communications Officer
  • Area Manager
  • Sub-area Manager

Lead officer

Responsible to:

  • the Director and Head of Highways and Waste Management for the strategic management of the event

Responsible for

  • the strategic management of the Directorate response to the severe weather event
  • ensuring that key roles have been designated for the event and are known
  • ensuring that the welfare of staff is being managed in HQ/Areas
  • calling and chairing Directorate audio-conferences relating to the event or designating a duty to be chair when required
  • acting as Directorate liaison with GOLD, MACC/FLOODCON and DCC emergency planning conference calls as required, or designating a suitable deputy to attend. However, when a deputy is designated, it is important to ensure that this role is fully briefed as it is key that one person has the complete strategic overview at this level to ensure an effective response. Ensuring that actions from these conferences are followed up and Directorate issues are taken to these conferences where appropriate
  • taking the ultimate decision on the strategic movement of plant and resources across the county, after taking appropriate advice
  • receiving and considering and acting upon national advice that may be received from time to time, including warnings, alerts and advice notes.
  • ensuring liaison occurs with adjacent highway authorities
  • assessing the resource available to respond to the incident and determining if the additional resource is required. For a snow/ice event ensuring that there are adequate salt stocks within the county and arranging for further supplies if required
  • taking strategic decisions
  • logging personal decisions are taken
  • providing a media “talking head” on the County’s highway response to the incident, with highway advice

Support officer/ NOCC manager

Responsible to:

  • Lead officer

Responsible for:

  • supporting the lead officer in managing the event
  • ensuring the welfare of HQ staff involved in the event, including planning shift change-over of staff and gaining adequate resources in HQ
  • providing information that the Lead Officer may require to make appropriate decisions
  • ensuring that the Lead Officer is informed on any developments in the situation, as information emerges
  • taking minutes of audio-conferences if no admin support is available, or ensuring their accuracy if secretarial support is available
  • ensuring the NOCC is briefed on the outcome of any audio conference
  • provide key liaison between NOCC and lead officer, especially regarding information that becomes available in the NOCC

Admin support (if available)

Responsible to:

  • Lead officer

Responsible for:

  • taking minutes of meetings and decisions are taken
  • computer logging of data when appropriate
  • admin support to the lead officer in managing the event

Communications officer

Responsible to:

  • lead officer (for directorate’s response to an event)
  • Corporate Communications Manager (for linking with emergency planning and other agencies – eg police)

Responsible for:

  • gleaning information from audio-conferences and producing press releases
  • managing media enquiries, especially for interviews
  • co-ordinating response corporately and with other external agencies

Area manager

Responsible to:

  • Neighbourhood Highway Group Manager

Responsible for:

  • local area management of response (eg snow clearance)
  • the welfare of all area staff involved in the response
  • managing priorities across the area
  • ensuring information is being fed from sub-areas to centre on status of clearance operations, resources and, where appropriate, salt levels, in a pre-agreed format
  • ensuring sub-area operations centres are opened and resourced and have adequate communication facilities
  • ensuring adequate support staff are available
  • opening an area control room if appropriate
  • ensuring strategic decisions are implemented
  • advising lead officer of any area problems impeding the response

Sub-area manager’s responsibilities if not designated

Responsible to:

  • Area Manager

Responsible for:

  • local sub-area management of response following the area plan
  • instructing the Term Maintenance Contractor
  • maintaining details of instructions and orders
  • completing and submitting road status forms to area and HQ at the required intervals, normally before conference calls
  • ensuring effective use of local resources
  • local supporting staff, and their welfare

Network Operations Control Centre

Responsible to:

  • Support Officer / NOCC Manager

Responsible for:

  • consolidating status information and advising the media
  • handling calls from professional partners and alerting NOCC manager (& Lead Officer) about significant events and requests
  • liaising with adjacent highway authorities and understanding their responsibilities and priorities
  • liaising with area control rooms routinely
  • monitoring and responding to weather information changes

Local emergency plans

Key information will be held in the Winter Service and Emergency Plan (WSEP) on the general county response to winter service and weather emergencies and this plan details the county-wide response to a severe weather emergency. However, the Neighbourhood Highway Group Manager is responsible for ensuring that each locality has a plan that will determine the local response which links to this countywide plan and specifically contains the following information:

  1. how the initial SWERP activation will be cascaded within the area to ensure representation at the initial audio-conference and subsequent full event activation
  2. the location, access, communication, operation and resourcing of an Area Control Room, where the Area Manager will be based to undertaken their specific role as previously detailed in this document
  3. the location, access, communication, operation and resourcing of any Sub-area Control Rooms, where the local management of an event will be undertaken
  4. details of staff who would be required to attend a control room in management or supporting role, ensuring that they can reasonably be expected to get there in difficult travelling conditions, and there are enough staff allocated for shift working 24/7. This list will need to be reviewed at least annually
  5. clear prioritisation of routes in the area, following County Policy, to determine the order in which routes will be cleared in an emergency. If sub-area control rooms are to be established to manage the operation then the plans should be broken down to detail the priority for that sub-area, with an indication as to how priorities will be managed across sub-areas
  6. priorities of cycleways and footways, especially where they could be important to the economy (eg High Streets)
  7. how consumable resources will be monitored and reported to HQ
  8. the resources that could be expected to be available in the area/sub-area, for different events such as snow, flooding and high wind
  9. normal tasks that can be sacrificed when staff are required to respond to the event
  10. a list of the A and B roads, and other key routes, broken down into suitable sections, that can be used to report the road status during an event to the NOCC and Area Control Room. This should use standard reporting nomenclature as defined in the WSEP and a common format with other Areas
  11. who is responsible for determining that staff are designated and trained for their specific role in an emergency
  12. who will be capable of fulfilling each designated role in an event, including those officers who would be designated for Silver Control when required
  13. how expenditure will be managed and local decisions recorded

Extreme weather information services

There are many services and warning that are now issued when severe weather is expected, or as a result of it occurring and they are described in this section.

Severe weather warnings

These are issued by the Met Office as part of the public warning service and come in the form of early warnings and flash warnings when specific trigger levels are reached. They are distributed by email and are also available on the web with additional information at

Early warnings can give up to 5 days notice of an extreme weather event and will often contain a risk assessment in the form of a likelihood of causing disruption or risk to life. They will refer to the probability of a region being affected and the South West region stretches from Cornwall to Gloucestershire.

Flash warnings are issued when confidence in an event reaches 90% and can be from 0 – 6 hours warning. They will identify which local authority area is likely to be affected.

Extreme Rainfall Alerts and Flood Guidance

These documents are relatively new and are provided by the Flood Forecasting Centre which is a joint venture between the Met Office and Environment Agency. They are designed to provide better information about flooding risk, but notably including surface water (flash) flooding risk. They are intentionally focussed on the extreme events but will provide risk assessments when events have only a 10% probability and hence care needs to be exercised in how the information is used to ensure an appropriate reaction. They can be helping in guiding the need for FLOODCON audio-conferencing.

Flood warnings

Issued by the Environment Agency these work in a four-stage warning system:

  • Flood Watch – flooding of low lying land expected. Be aware! Be prepared! Watch out!
  • Flood Warning – Flooding of homes and businesses expected. Act now!
  • Severe Flood Warning. Severe flooding is expected. There is an extreme danger to life and property. Act now!
  • All Clear. Flood watches or warnings are no longer in force in this area

Besides, the EA may issue a pre-MIP (Major Incident Plan) and a MIP. The first means to prepare for a major incident which is imminent – ie flood defences are likely to be overtopped and many lives and property are at risk. The second means to activate the Major Incident Plan as contained in the Devon Flood Warning and Emergency Response Plan.

When invoked the Area will be expected to implement the Traffic Management Plan where it exists, for the specific scenario contained in the DFWERP (which covers most major towns and city susceptible to serious flooding risk).

Summary of warnings are available on the internet at the Met Office website.


After any activation of this plan, a debrief should take place with appropriate staff, generally including staff in the designated roles. If only used in a precautionary move, the debrief may be informal, but when used in response to a major event a full debrief should be undertaken, within a month of the event to capture key issues.

  • the purpose of the debrief is
  • to consider what went well
  • to consider what could be improved
  • to consider what changes should be made to the plan
  • to consider what other changes need to be made

Police response to emergencies

Most major incidents will be declared and lead by the police. A weather event may not be declared as a major incident until it is seen to significantly disrupt normality and require a special response due to the number of lives at risk. If a major incident is declared the police will normally establish a GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE command structure.


The strategic decision-making group which establishes a framework of policy within which the SILVER will operate. They will often ask partners to send representatives to the Strategic Coordinating Group which advises GOLD either at Middlemoor or via an audio-conference. Officers ranging from the Chief Executive to the Lead Officer of a weather event may be asked to participate at GOLD meetings.


The tactical incident management level which the police will normally establish at Exeter, Paignton or Barnstaple. Managers in the areas may be requested to attend silver at one of these locations to advise on highway issues and respond to requests from the silver commander to assist with road closures, diversions, access and evacuation routes etc.


The police operational level designated with specific tasks. There could be several bronze command points established.

Emergency services – First Officer at the Scene

When emergency services arrive at a scene with casualties then they may need to take precautions. By including this information in the plan it can help staff to understand the emergency response and ensure they assist rather than impede any action.

Risk Assess

Don’t rush in. Consider the risks to your safety first, the risks to other responders and the public. Remember the possibility of a CBRN (Chemical Biological Radioactive or Nuclear) incident.

ThinkSafety Triggers for Emergency Personnel (step) 1, 2, and 3.

Step One

One Casualty

No obvious explanation or cause
Approach using normal procedures.

Step Two

Two casualties

No obvious explanation or cause
Approach with caution and consider all options
Report on arrival. Update the control room

Step Three

Three or more casualties

No obvious explanation or cause

Do not approach. withdraw, contain and report. Isolate yourself and send for specialist help.
If there is, after an evaluation of the incident, a credible threat:

  • do not proceed to the scene
  • go to a safe place uphill, upwind
  • do not involve yourself in rescue work
  • do not touch anything or you may become a casualty

Emergency services – situation report chalets
When emergency services first arrive at an emergency they are asked to report the situation using the following chalets format:


  1. an approximate number of all casualties, and where they are located?
  2. what symptoms are present?
  3. about what percentage are deceased, seriously injured, minor injuries or trapped?


  1. are there clouds of gas, smoke or fire present?
  2. any debris from an explosion, if so, how widely spread?
  3. any other potential hazards?
  4. any environmental hazards, such as bodies of water or potential pollution?
  5. if a transport incident, are there any Hazchem markings visible?

Access (and egress) routes

  1. is the initial access route safe?
  2. are likely access and egress routes congested?
  3. what resources will potentially be needed to maintain clear access and egress routes?
  4. is it necessary to remove parked vehicles?
  5. what egress routes are available, particularly for the removal of casualties?
  6. is it necessary to set up ‘Red (priority) Routes’?


  1. what is the precise location (to include a grid reference)?
  2. how large is the area affected?
  3. does it contain residential properties, shops or offices?
  4. are there any venues with large numbers of people nearby?
  5. are there vulnerable persons (e.g. elderly or infirm) involved or nearby?

Emergency services required (and evacuation)

  1. which Emergency Services are required?
  2. is specialist equipment required?
  3. are specialist support organisations required i.e. radiation monitoring?
  4. is Evacuation necessary, or is Shelter a more viable option?
  5. will evacuation of people be required if so approximate numbers?
  6. where will they be evacuated from?
  7. is there an identified safe route to use?
  8. where will they be taken to?
  9. are facilities available to receive them?

Type of incident

  1. can the type of incident be identified, i.e. plane crash, explosion, fire, hazmat, etc.?
  2. are there any early indications if the incident may be any act of terrorism or crime?
  3. has a Major Incident been declared? If in doubt do so

Start the log (and safety)

  1. commence a log as soon as possible to record decisions and actions taken
  2. safety measures are taken/required, e.g. PPE, cordons established

12 Other emergencies

12.1 Definitions

Other emergencies include:

  • clearance of debris and obstructions
  • flooding
  • high winds
  • high temperatures
  • other highway emergencies

If an emergency develops or has the potential to develop into a major incident, then the Severe Weather Emergency Plan should be followed, as detailed in Section 11.

12.2 Network Operations Control Centre

A good communications network and a single point of contact are essential for the effective management of all emergencies and safe use of the highway network This is provided by the Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC) which is staffed 24 hours a day and provides a contact point between the Council, the public, its contractors, the emergency services and other Authorities.

The NOCC is equipped to enable staff to monitor many aspects of the highway network and manage incidents of severe weather. The technology available to them includes Urban Traffic Control which is utilised to manage traffic in Devon’s larger conurbations and Closed Circuit Television, including webcams and is used to monitor traffic flows and weather conditions.

12.3 Notification

Incidents which are reported to the NOCC will be passed to the appropriate Devon Highways staff. They will investigate and inform NOCC of the current situation and again when the highway is clear.

The NOCC must be informed of incidents reported that affect the flow of traffic so that they can be included in reports that may be prepared for public information and senior managers as appropriate.

12.4 Nominated emergency contacts

Nominated emergency contacts for use when emergencies arise will be identified. Besides, the NOCC has procedures that list those officers, senior managers and organisations (Police, Environment Agency etc.) who are to be contacted in the event of serious incidents.

12.5 Clearance of debris and obstructions

The Environmental Protection Act gives the responsibility for highway sweeping and litter clearance to the District, City or Borough Councils (including fly-tipping, dead animals and abandoned vehicles). The County Council still retains certain duties relating to road safety:

  • removing obstructions from the highway posing an immediate hazard to road users
  • removing materials from the carriageway, cycleway or footway which are posing a potential hazard to users
  • removing material that is compromising maintenance systems
  • removing leaf fall at locations where this is exceptionally heavy and is seriously affecting road safety

Devon Highways will attend the scene of road traffic crashes at the request of the emergency services to clear debris from the carriageway, cycleway or footway.

Non-hazardous spillages (liquid or solid) will also be cleared and the carriageway, cycleway or footway temporarily treated if appropriate. The Environment Agency can be consulted using their enquiry line 03708 506 506 on an appropriate course of action if necessary.

Hazardous spillages (gas, liquid or solid) should be treated with caution. The priority is to keep the area clear and call the emergency services if not already in attendance, also the Environment Agency should be informed and consulted on their emergency hotline 0800 80 70 60. In some circumstances, e.g. where material needs collecting and disposing of, then specialist waste disposal contractors will be needed. The term maintenance contractor will arrange this following their standard safe working procedures

Section 148 of the Highways Act makes it an offence to deposit any dung, compost, rubbish or other material (e.g. mud or hedge cuttings) on a made-up carriageway or the highway if it interrupts any user. If the deposit constitutes an immediate danger on a major route and the offender will not immediately remove it, or if he cannot be traced easily, the County Council will remove it and may attempt to reclaim the cost of doing so from the offender per Section 149 of the Act. If the deposit does not constitute an immediate danger or is on a minor route the police should trace the offender and request its removal. If the offender refuses, a formal notice can be issued, if he then fails to act on the notice the default procedure in the Act may be followed, during this time appropriate warning signs should be erected.

Where soil or refuse is being washed onto the highway the County Council will discuss possible preventative measures with the adjacent landowner/occupier concerned, involving the Environmental Agency where appropriate. Should the landowner/occupier not agree to undertake, nor complete the agreed remedial work, the Council will issue a notice under Section 151 of the Highways Act and may pursue retribution through the Court for any remedial work undertaken by the Council.

12.6 Flooding

Over recent years the frequency of storms in Devon has increased and this has led to more instances of flooding affecting the highway. It is therefore important to maintain and improve the capacity and condition of existing highway drainage systems to make them robust enough to cope. Consideration also needs to be given to run off and discharge capacity during the design process.

Surface water flooding of the highway shall be prevented wherever possible and this may involve exercising powers under Sections 100 and 163 of the Highways Act (draining water from and preventing water from flowing onto, and preventing water falling on or flowing on respectively).

Further details about the warnings that are now available concerning potential flooding are given in Section 14. If a flooding event becomes a major incident, reference should be made to the “Devon Flood Warning and Response Plan” issued by Emergency Planning.

12.7 Sandbags

The primary responsibility rests with the property owner to protect their property.

Each delivery unit should hold small local stocks of sandbags ready for use to deal with the effects of highway flooding, for example resulting from a blocked/damaged surface water drains, culverts, etc. It is not able to supply sandbags generally to property owners to prevent flooding arising from rivers or land run-off. In the event of requests for assistance from District Councils, Fire Service or other agencies however; the County Council does endeavour to provide a backup service within the limits of available resources. The prime responsibility of this service at such times is to look after the integrity of the highway infrastructure, including bridges and the safety of road users.

Some District Councils supply sandbags to the general public and the public should contact their relevant District for information

12.8 High winds

Following storms, the Council will clear fallen trees, branches, earth slips and other debris from carriageways, cycleways and footways on major routes, where necessary using the priorities set out in the pre-salting network and maintenance category order. On minor roads, the adjacent landowner/occupier will be allowed to undertake clearance work where the obstruction originated from outside the highway. Where the Council must undertake any clearance work it may attempt to recover the cost from the adjacent landowner/occupier where appropriate.

The range of possible actions could include the following, although the timing of the response will need to be considered to safeguard the safety of persons until the more extreme conditions have abated:

  • signing and maintaining temporary closures and diversions
  • clearance of fallen and potentially dangerous trees
  • clearance and removal of debris
  • general support to the emergency services

12.9 High Temperatures

High temperatures can damage bituminous surfaces by reducing skidding resistance or increasing susceptibility to rutting. Sanding of surfaces can be undertaken to mitigate the former but the latter will need to be remedied through normal road maintenance.

12.10 Other Highway emergencies

There is a range of other possible situations that will need an emergency response, this includes for example landslips, collapsed walls, collapsed retaining walls, subsidence, broken covers, etc. each will need to be considered and an appropriate response actioned for example:

  • signing and maintaining temporary closures and diversions
  • clearance and removal of debris
  • assistance with temporary support and repair
  • general support to the emergency services

When necessary, where there are several emergencies and resources are fully committed, responses should be actioned using the priority order set out in the pre-salting network and maintenance categories.

12.11 Highway inspection during emergencies

Where emergencies are not limited to localised areas an inspection of all major routes (as given by the salting network) and other known trouble spots will be made so that necessary clearance work and signing can be organised in priority order. This information about the status of the network should be passed to the NOCC as soon as possible.

12.12 Co-operation with adjacent authorities

Local staff will liaise with Highway Managers in neighbouring authorities so that mutual assistance can be arranged as necessary.

12.13 Resources deployed

During emergencies, information on resources deployed in terms of men, plant and costs will be required and the Network Operations Control Centre will make requests for information so local staff will need to ensure this information is being collected.

12.14 Records

Local staff must keep local records of all incidents, emergencies, etc., together with reports of responses and outcomes for use in defence of any claims that may be received.

13 Weather-warnings

13.1 Introduction

The National Severe Weather Warning service has changed and been improved. Extensive information is available online and this section only gives a summary. The weather warnings for the Southwest can be found at

Severe Weather Warning Service

Weather warnings will continue to be emailed and these will be forwarded to staff who operationally require them.

13.2 Key information

Warnings are issued out to five days ahead for the UK.

There are two types of warning:

  • warnings – issued up to 24 hours ahead
  • alerts – issued more than 24 hours ahead

Warnings are issued for rain, snow, wind, fog, ice

Warnings are based on a combination of:

  • likelihood – How likely the event is to occur
  • impact – The potential impact the expected conditions may have

Warnings are given a colour depending on a combination of both the likelihood of the event happening and the impact the conditions may have.

  • red
  • amber
  • yellow

This is an example of the matrix used to decide the warning colour is shown below. In this case, an event with a high likelihood and medium impact would result in an amber warning.

Example of a risk matrix

The matrix information showing how a warning was assigned its colour will be available for all warnings via the ‘More details’ link on the warnings page. However, you don’t need to view this level of detail if you don’t want to. You can simply use the following guidelines for each colour:

Matrix information

Chief Forecaster’s assessment explains why the warning has been given the colour it has, as well as indicating where any uncertainties lie and any additional information. Again, you don’t need to view this level of detail unless you want to.

An example of the warning style is shown below:

Example of a severe weather warning

13.3 Beaufort Scale of Wind

Speeds are given at height of 10 m above open flat ground.

Beaufort forceDescriptionMean speed (MPH)Gusts (MPH)Effect
0Calm<1 Calm: Smoke rises vertically
1Light air1 – 3 The direction of wind shown by smoke drift but not wind vanes.
2Light breeze4 – 7 The wind felt in the face; Leaves rustle; ordinary vanes moved by the wind
3Gentle breeze8 – 12 Leaves and small twigs in constant motion; wind extends light flags.
4Moderate breeze13 – 18 Raises dust and paper; small branches are moved
5Fresh breeze19 – 24 Small trees in leaf begin to sway; crested wavelets form on inland waters
6Strong breeze25 – 31 Large branches in motion; whistling heard in telegraph wires; umbrellas used with difficulty
7Near gale32 – 38 Whole trees in motion; inconvenience felt when walking against the wind
8Gale39 – 4649 – 59Breaks twigs off trees; generally impedes progress
9Severe gale47 – 5460 – 69Slight structural damage occurs; (chimney pots and slates removed)
10Storm55 – 6370 – 78Seldom experienced inland; trees uprooted; considerable structural damage occurs
11Violent storms64 – 7279 – 89Very rarely experienced; accompanied by widespread damage

14 Extreme rainfall alerts and flood warnings

14.1 Introduction

Following the major UK flooding in June and July 2007, the Government commissioned Sir Michael Pitt to lead a year-long independent inquiry, and on the 25 June 2008, the final Pitt Review was published. The report examines both how to reduce the risk and impact of floods, and the emergency response to the floods. Whilst there has been no legislative changes enacted to date as a result of the report, there has been action on behalf of the Government to act on a number of the recommendations, in particular in improving the information available to emergency responders and encouraging emergency responders to improve their communications before potential flooding events including surface water and flash flooding.

On 21st April 2009, the Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) was created, as a partnership between the Environment Agency and Met Office, to forecast river and coastal flooding as well as extreme rainfall which may lead to flooding from surface water. It will help provide earlier warnings of floods to local authorities and the emergency services, to give them more time to prepare for floods and reduce the risk of loss of life and damage to property. The new service will complement existing public flood warning arrangements from the Environment Agency and public weather warnings from the Met Office.

As a result of these initiatives the following operational information is available to assist in managing flood events (FFC – Flood Forecasting Centre, MO – Met Office, EA – Environment Agency):

Extreme Rainfall AdvisoryFFCProbability >10%
Extreme Rainfall AlertFFCProbability >20%
Flood Guidance StatementFFCNoon daily when Amber or above
Severe weather early warningMOUp to 5 days before
Severe weather flash warningMOUp to 6 hours before
Flooding operational informationEA, DevonWhen flooding expected
Flood WarningsEA, DevonWhen required

As a result of these warnings a multi-agency conference call may be convened, normally by the County Council’s Emergency Planning Duty Officer in consultation with the Environment Agency and possibly the police for the professional partners within the County or Local Resilience Forum area (covered by the Devon and Cornwall Police Force). This may be known as DEVFLOODCON or FLOODCON and operates in a similar way to a GOLD conference. It is designed to allow the professional partners to be appraised of the situation and for each party to understand how others are planning to respond to the event. Professional partners would include emergency services, local authorities, EA, Met Office, Highway England.

If major flooding events occur or are likely, reference should be made to the Devon Flood Warning and Response Plan which details how the county and other agencies will respond to the incident in Devon and have specific plans for several locations susceptible to fluvial (river), pluvial (surface water) or tidal flooding.

14.2 Extreme rainfall alerts (era) and flood guidance statements

The Flood Forecasting Centre is operational every day of the year and sends out Flood Guidance Statements daily at noon, with an increase of frequency during extreme flood events. The NOCC only receives these statements when they are categorised as “Amber of above” – i.e. when there is the possibility of an event.

The ERA Service is designed to alert emergency responders in England and Wales to the possibility of urban surface water flooding as a result of extreme rainfall. The alert is issued at a county level to help local response organisations manage the potential impacts of flooding. An ERA can take two forms:

  • ERA guidance/advisory — issued when there is more than a 10% chance of extreme rainfall
  • ERA alert — issued when there is more than a 20% chance of extreme rainfall

14.3 Flood warnings

The Environment Agency (EA) has 4 stage system of flood warnings, which applies to both floodings from rivers and the sea.

  • flood alert
  • flood warning
  • severe flood warning
  • warnings no longer in force

Also, the EA’s local office will issue “operational information” in the form of faxes or emails which provides their best information summary on an expected flooding event.

There is a single number information line for the general public – 0845 988 1188. Members of the public can sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct. Their website on Current Flooding Situations is updated every 15 mins. The warning code definitions have also been updated.

The NOCC will receive flood warnings from the Environment Agency and distribute these to affected Areas by email as appropriate. The email will include whether or not there is a need to invoke the responses given in the Devon Flood Warning and Response Plan Part 1 – Major Risk Areas, in which case the County Emergency Planning Officer will be informed by NOCC.

The new codes are a fundamental change from the previous colour coded flood warning system and are not directly comparable. Flood Watch and All Clear applies to all watercourses and coastlines, Flood Warning and Severe Flood Warning are only applicable to main rivers and coastal areas. Generally, the system will move up and down through the stages, however, there will be circumstances when stages are omitted e.g. for a flash flood. The term Update is used to indicate that flooding within an area is forecast to increase but a step-up in warning stage is not warranted, it can also be used to update a warning that has been in force for a time to maintain public awareness.

14.4 Flood watch areas

The country is divided into Flood Watch Areas that are based on river catchments. Devon is mainly covered by four River Areas, which do not coincide with the similarly named District Council boundaries and two Coastal Areas although small areas of the County are covered by part of adjacent areas.

River Areas – Mid & East Devon, North Devon, South Devon, West Devon

Coastal Areas  – South Devon Coast and North Devon Coast

Sub-areaRiver areasCoastal areas
BarnstapleNorth Devon AreaNorth Devon Coast
Somerset Coast
ExeterEast & Mid Devon Area 
IvybridgeSouth Devon Area
West Devon Area
South Devon Coast
Newton AbbotEast & Mid Devon Area
South Devon Area
South Devon Coast
OkehamptonNorth Devon Area
South Devon Area
West Devon Area
EasternEast & Mid Devon AreaSouth Devon Coast
TivertonEast & Mid Devon Area
North Devon Area
TorringtonNorth Devon Area
West Devon Area
North Devon Coast
North Cornwall Coast

These areas are shown on the following map:
Flood area map

Map of EA floodwatch areas

14.5 Flood Warning Code Definitions

Image of flood watch symbols and definitions used by the Environment Agency

There are many different sources and types of flood risk and flooding including rivers and the sea, estuaries, sewers, surface water, overland flow, etc. The Agency’s Flood Warning Code System applies principally to flooding from rivers and the sea, to designated areas within the indicative floodplain. Such areas are known by their standard generic terms “Flood Watch Area” or “Flood Warning Area”.

Flood Watches will be issued for areas of the floodplain within a catchment or group of catchments at risk from minor impact flooding from main rivers, ordinary watercourses and the sea. These will be known as Flood Watch Areas. A single Flood Watch Area may cover the flood plain across several catchments with broadly similar hydrological and hydraulic characteristics e.g. a single Flood Watch may be issued for several catchments within the flood plain. The degree of detail provided by the Flood Watch regarding specific flood locations will depend on local knowledge of where rivers start to come out of banks in low lying areas, or where coastal spray/overtopping starts to occur.

Flood Warnings and Severe Flood Warnings will be issued for Flood Warning Areas, which are delineated by recognised communities such as an urban area, a significant suburb of a large city, a village or hamlet as follows:

  1. river name and county – city /town/village or upstream to downstream description
  2. coastal area – cities / town / village or a to b description

For further information see:

15 Snow Warden and community self-help

15.1 Introduction

During periods of extreme weather, such as the heavy snow over the last two winters, communities can do a lot to help themselves and others. Devon County Council’s programme of winter service is extensive but our focus is on the major routes which carry the most traffic, which sometimes means smaller communities don’t receive as much help as they would like.

15.2 Snow Wardens and self-help

The Snow Warden is the key point of contact between the local community and DCC. It is primarily a coordination role but also provides traceability regarding Devon County Council’s public liability insurance by delivering training to community volunteers and through keeping a register of the local volunteers.

15.4 Salt purchasing for public sector organisations

Other public sector organisations can purchase salt through Devon County Councils salt supply tender by contacting Devon Procurement Services Helpline on 01392 383000 or through other external suppliers. All public sector organisations are encouraged to ensure that their requirements for salt are met in advance of the onset of winter.

15.5 Free salt under the snow warden scheme

Where it is agreed that free salt will be provided to towns and parishes, normally on 1 tonne in 25kg sealed bags, this will be on condition that:

  • the community is registered with the snow warden scheme and the snow warden is trained
  • the community provides a plan that identifies how the free salt will be used to benefit the public highway
  • the salt is stored in a safe and secure place without risk of affecting drains and watercourses

It is for the Neighbourhood Highway Teams to ensure these requirements are met.


Appendix 1 – contact details

Contact details – held internally

Appendix 2 – Primary Salting Routes

The route details and maps are correct as of 30th September 2021 and remain valid for the winter of 2023/24. Any changes made during the winter period must be passed through the Winter Service Engineer where new route cards and maps can then be issued to the Neighbourhood Teams and Contractor.

Index of Routes

Barnstaple neighbourhood team

  1. MOL1C route card and MOL1C map operating from South Molton
  2. MOL2C route card and MOL2C map operating from South Molton
  3. MOL3C route card and MOL3C map operating from South Molton
  4. MOL4C route card and MOL4C map operating from South Molton
  5. PAR1A route card and PAR1A map operating from Parracombe
  6. PAR2C route card and PAR2C map operating from Parracombe
  7. PAR2C High Ground route card and PAR2C High Ground map operating from Parracombe

Torrington neighbourhood team

  1. DOL1B route card and DOL1B map operating from Dolton
  2. DOL2B route card and DOL2B map operating from Dolton
  3. OKE2C route card and OKE2C map operating from Okehampton
  4. OKE3C route card and OKE3Cmap operating from Okehampton
  5. COP1B route card and COP1B map operating from Copstone
  6. COP2A route card and COP2A map operating from Copstone
  7. COP3C route card and COP3C map operating from Copstone

Ivybridge neighbourhood team

  1. TOR1B route card and TOR1B map operating from Torr
  2. TOR2B route card and TOR2B map operating from Torr
  3. IVY1B route card and IVY1B map operating from Ivybridge
  4. IVY2B route card and IVY2B map operating from Ivybridge
  5. TAV1C route card and TAV1C map operating from Tavistock
  6. TAV2C route card and TAV2C map operating from Tavistock
  7. TAV2C High Ground route card and TAV2C High Ground map operating from Tavistock

Newton Abbot neighbourhood team

  1. RYD1B route card and RYD1B map operating from Rydon
  2. RYD2A route card and RYD2A map operating from Rydon
  3. RYD3C route card and RYD3C map operating from Rydon
  4. RYD4B route card and RYD4B map operating from Rydon
  5. RYD5B route card and RYD5B map operating from Rydon

Tiverton neighbourhood team

  1. TIV1C route card and TIV1C map operating from Tiverton
  2. TIV2C route card and TIV2C map operating from Tiverton
  3. TIV3C route card and TIV3C map operating from Tiverton
  4. TIV4C route card and TIV4C map operating from Tiverton
  5. CRE1C route card and CRE1C map operating from Crediton

Exeter and Eastern neighbourhood team

  1. HON1C route card and HON1C map operating from Honiton
  2. HON2C route card and HON2C map operating from Honiton
  3. HON3C route card and HON3C map operating from Honiton
  4. AVO1C route card and AVO1C map operating from Avocet Road
  5. AVO2B route card and AVO2B map operating from Avocet Road
  6. AVO3B route card and AVO3B map operating from Avocet Road
  7. AVO4B route card and AVO4B map operating from Avocet Road
  8. AVO5B route card and AVO5B map operating from Avocet Road

Appendix 3 – Secondary Salting Routes

The route details and maps are correct as of 30th September 2020 and remain valid for the winter of 2023/24. Any changes made during the winter period must be passed through the Winter Service Engineer where new route cards and maps can then be issued to the Neighbourhood Teams and Contractor.

Index of Routes

Barnstaple neighbourhood team

  1. SMOL1 route card and SMOL1 map operating from South Molton
  2. SMOL2 route card and SMOL2 map operating from South Molton
  3. SPAR1 route card and SPAR1 map operating from Parracombe

Torrington neighbourhood team

  1. SDOL1 route card and SDOL1 map operating from Dolton
  2. SOKE1 route card and SOKE1 map operating from Okehampton
  3. SOKE2 route card and SOKE2 map operating from Okehampton
  4. SCOP1 route card and SCOP1 map operating from Copstone

Ivybridge neighbourhood team

  1. STOR1 route card and STOR1 map operating from Torr
  2. STOR2 route card and STOR2 map operating from Torr
  3. SIVY1 route card and SIVY1 map operating from Ivybridge
  4. STAV1 route card and STAV1 map operating from Tavistock

Newton Abbot neighbourhood team

  1. SRYD1 route card and SRYD1 map operating from Rydon
  2. SRYD2 route card and SRYD2 map operating from Rydon

Tiverton neighbourhood team

  1. STIV1 route card and STIV1 map operating from Tiverton
  2. SCRE1 route card and SCRE1 map operating from Crediton
  3. SCRE2 route card and SCRE2 map operating from Crediton

Exeter and Eastern neighbourhood team

  1. SHON1 route card and SHON1 map operating from Honiton
  2. SHON2 route card and SHON2 map operating from Honiton
  3. SHON3 route card and SHON3 map operating from Honiton
  4. SAVO1 route card and SAVO1 map operating from Avocet Road
  5. SAVO2 route card and SAVO2 map operating from Avocet Road

Appendix 4 – IT Back-up Forms

Internal document not published.

Appendix 5 – Routes and Domains

Internal document not published.

Appendix 6 – Winter Information

Winter Service and Emergencies General Information 2022/23

Highway winter service and emergency operations are carried out following the County Council’s Winter Service Plan, which details policies and procedures that have been developed over many years. Its objectives are designed to reduce accidents and delays to the travelling public and assist the movement of emergency vehicles, and can be summarised as follows:-

  • to provide, within resource constraints, as safe as passage as practicable for users of the highway;
  • to minimise delays, crashes and damage resulting from snow, ice and associated flooding of the highway;
  • to undertake winter service operations effectively and efficiently;
  • to ensure that the aims of the environmental statement on pollution are met.

It is impracticable to salt the entire County road network in freezing conditions so a salting network has been identified comprising the major routes where the majority of vehicle movements take place and it also includes, where practicable access to hospitals, ambulance and fire stations, other emergency service establishments and Secondary Schools.

During severe weather, such as prolonged freezing or significant snowfalls, other routes on the Devon network are treated or cleared on a priority basis after hazards affecting the salting network have been dealt with.

We use modern technology to predict likely road conditions which enable the County to be proactive when freezing conditions or snowfalls are anticipated. With the assistance of weather forecasts, radar and satellite imagery and site sensors, salting operations can be targeted more accurately, thereby minimising the use of salt. This is an important consideration for both environmental and cost grounds.

The condition of the highway network is monitored 24 hours a day from the Network Operations Control Centre at Great Moor House in Exeter; it is from here that winter service operations are co-ordinated.

A modern fleet of salting vehicles is operated by the Council’s contractor, Milestone, from strategically placed depots and used when action is required to:-
prevent the formation of ice on the carriageways of the precautionary salting network;
treat ice that has already formed;
prevent or reduce the amount of snow settling on the carriageways of the precautionary salting network;

The M5 and Trunk Roads are looked after by Highways England and their contractors but Devon still has the greatest road length of any county in England and this, combined with diverse climate conditions, often results in the need to manage complex winter service situations.

General information

Devon’s area and topography

Area 6700 square kilometres (2600 square miles), is ranging from sea level to 620 metres (2000 feet) above sea level.

Roads and Bridges

Devon has 12,866 kilometres (8000 miles) of roads, which is approximately 3000 kilometres (1840 miles) more than any other Highway Authority in England. Devon owns 3300 bridges, of which 3000 bridges are crossing water.

Winter Service and Emergency Budget

Winter service operations £1.29m, Plant, winter systems and standby £1.15m, £2.44m total.

Emergencies £496k (Severe weather damage, flooding etc)

Salting Network

The salting network is 2664km (1655 miles approx) the length of the network actually salted (20% total network), 1394km free length, 4058km total (66% efficient).

Approximately 10,167km (6352 miles), 80%, are not routinely pre-salted and may be icy during cold weather.

There are 37 pre-salting routes.

The typical operational cost of a full pre-salt is approximately £10,700 (excluding plant costs). Salting is typically undertaken on about 60 nights each winter.

Pre-wet Spreading

Pre-wet spreading is carried out by special gritters which have been fitted with brine tanks, as the salt is discharged on to the spinner it is sprayed with a 22% salt brine solution. The brine is made and stored in special tanks called saturators at each depot. By pre-wetting the particles of salt it has been found that the distribution pattern is more predictable and there is less bounce, a residual salt layer is adsorbed and adheres more effectively to the road surface. The finer particles, which are the most active also drift less in-vehicle slipstreams and crosswinds. This has been confirmed by use and experience in Newton Abbot and Tiverton sub-area offices. The same 6mm salt can be used for spreading on the carriageway as dry spreading or a finer 3mm grading can be used. Pre-wet spreaders can operate at higher speeds and there is also a significant saving in salt on negative texture surfacing as salt can be spread at the standard rates. Other advantages are: pre-wet has better retention characteristics; gives a more even spread on the road; less drift onto roadside vegetation and watercourses.

All winter service depots operate a prewet service.

Salt and Grit

Devon spreads salt as the most cost-effective method of treatment. A stock of around 24574 tonnes of spreading and brining salt is stored at depots, mainly in salt barns, at the beginning of the winter season. Typically Devon uses 13000 tonnes of salt per year.

6mm is generally used and for pre-treatment, it is applied rates between 8 and 20 grammes per square metre. Where ice has already formed salt is applied at a heavier rate between 15 and 40 g/m². Salt becomes ineffective for the prevention or treatment of ice at very low temperatures.

When snow is forecast salt is applied at a rate of between 10 and 40 g/m² depending on the amount expected. Uncompacted snow is treated with salt at a rate of 10 g/m² for every 25mm. Grit or a grit/salt mix is used to treat compacted snow.

The County has approximately 3000 salt/grit bins located at known trouble spots away from the pre-salt network for self-help by road users. These are supplemented by bags of salt/grit.

The County Council does not supply salt to outside organisations. Milestone may not sell salt to other Local Authority Directorates or Government bodies without the permission of the Head of Service or their delegate.

Local offices can supply members of the public with salt for highway use up to a maximum of 25 kg during extended periods of cold weather or snow (defined as most of the day), sacks should contain a maximum of 12.5 kg. This should be by arrangement from places where the public normally have access, not from operational depots unless there are appropriate safety facilities and insurance cover. The person issued with salt should be given a copy of the guidelines for use and sign the register.


Highway authorities have a “duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice.” It is therefore important that the procedures set out in the Winter Service Plan are followed as it sets out the policies to meet the duties imposed under the Highways Act. To meet this duty the County Council undertakes pre-salting on the more major routes of the network to prevent the formation of ice or snow settling. During longer cold periods, snow or ice formation is treated on other routes off the pre-salting network on an ‘as needs’ basis, within the resources available, once the precautionary salting network is clear.


Highway Authorities have a statutory duty under section 150 of the Highways Act to remove obstructions which includes snow.

When snow is forecast, predicted undisturbed amounts are defined as follows:

Slight < 25mm,
moderate 25 to 100mm,
heavy > 100mm.

Snow can only be effectively ploughed when it reaches a depth of greater than 50mm.

Flooding and High Winds

The Environment Agency issue flood warnings during periods of heavy rainfall. Expected conditions have been circulated by the Agency for the different alert states. They operate an information service under the name of Floodline on 0845 988 1188, this service has been expanded in Devon to include information from the County District Councils.

Warnings of high winds are given in severe weather warnings issued by the Met Office.

Mean wind speed of a gale is 43 mph with gusts of 55 mph.
Mean wind speed of a severe gale is 50mph with gusts of 65mph.
Mean wind speed of a storm is 59 mph with gusts of 74 mph.


The County Council holds small local stocks of sandbags to deal with the effects of highway flooding, for example resulting from a blocked highway drain, and is not able to supply sandbags generally to property owners to prevent flooding arising from rivers or land run-off. Where there is a risk that properties might flood, either through high tides or surface runoff, it would be expected that the property owners would take some measures themselves to try to prevent flooding e.g. stop-boards, or purchase of sandbags.

In the event of requests for assistance from District Councils, the Fire Service or other agencies, however, the County Council does endeavour to provide a backup service within the limits of available resources. Some District Councils can supply sandbags, see the Plan for contacts and details or call Floodline, otherwise the following businesses can supply bags for sand but the sand will have to be obtained from quarries or builders’ merchants: Greenhams, Exeter (01392 271770); Parker Merchanting, Exeter (01392 288900). Many builders’ merchants do not stock sandbags.


Milestone, the County Council’s term maintenance contractor, provides the workforce to carry out winter service and emergency operations, with up to 200 trained and experienced operatives available.

Plant – Devon has approximately 145 items of plant available for winter service as follows:

  • 37 frontline gritters
  • 12 reserve frontline gritters
  • 17 white-out gritters
  • 6 tractor-mounted spreaders
  • 7 tractor trailed gritters
  • 61 snow ploughs
  • 5 snow blowers (tractor mounted)

In addition to this Milestone, vehicles are used in clearance operations during storms and flooding.

The tractor-mounted snow blowers are available to deal with heavy snowfalls and are based at Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Honiton, South Molton and Parracombe. The County Council’s and Milestone equipment can, if necessary, be supplemented by the hire of other contractors’ vehicles. Some farmers and agricultural contractors have tractor mounted snow blowers which can be hired in emergencies.

Ice prediction and detection

Devon uses the following to assist in the prediction of ice formation and snow:

Weather forecasts

Devon receives a comprehensive daily weather forecast specifically aimed at predicting road surface conditions from which the need for pro-active treatment of the salting network is determined. Other forecasts include National Severe Weather Warnings in respect of snow, high winds and flooding when appropriate.

Weather radar and satellite images

Information from radar and satellite sources supplements the weather forecasts and allows engineers to track rainfall and cloud cover. This is important to obtain the correct timing of winter maintenance operations and to prevent abortive salting.


Equipment installed at 33 key sites throughout the County provides frequent information concerning road and air temperatures, wind speed and surface conditions. There also 2 footway temperature sensors in Newton Abbot and Okehampton. The sensors will detect the presence of ice and indicate the residual salt concentration present on the road. Also, information from 8 sites on the motorway and trunk road network is available.

The forecasters use information from specific sensors to aid their prediction of road surface temperatures and carriageway conditions.

Thermal maps

The majority of the pre-salting network has been mapped to provide a thermal fingerprint of each route.

Network Operations Control Centre

Crucial to the control of winter service and emergency operations is Devon County Council’s Highway Operations Control Centre from where conditions are continuously monitored so that the action taken can be initiated at the appropriate time. Decisions are taken by considering the forecast, data from the ice detection system, weather satellite and weather radar. A winter service management system has been introduced which collates all the winter service activities and is capable of providing real-time information from the spreaders which have been fitted with GPS to record when they start and complete a salting route. The Highway Operations Control Centre also acts as the liaison point for the police, other emergency services and the motoring organisations. It also serves as a central point of contact for providing information to the media, particularly during severe weather when it collates the county road status across Devon.

Winter service statistics

Pre-salt Routes 37
Pre-salt length 2,664km or 1,655 miles
% of the network treated 20%
Ice Detection Sites 33
Gritters 73
Salt Barns 13
Salt Stock 24574t
Typical Pre-salt Uses 150t
Typical Pre-salt Costs £12,700

Appendix 7 – HNMG Report on Precautionary Salting of Footways and Cycleways

Appendix 7 is the report on how the precautionary salting of footways and cycles has been determined.

Appendix 8 – Devons Roads Treated By Others

The following sections of Devons road network are treated by a neighbouring authority to the neighbouring authorities policy and procedure.

8.1 Kingswear – Treated by Torbay Council

Map showing roads treated in Kingswear

8.2 A380 – Torbay Ring Road – Torbay Council

Map showing a section of A380 treated by Torbay Council

8.3 A39 Welcombe Cross – Cornwall Council

MAp showing section of A39 treated by Cornwall Council

8.4 B3254 – Jewells Cross to Bevill’s Hill – Cornwall Council

Map of B3254 treated by Cornwall Council

8.5 B3165 Monkton Cross to Wootton Cross – Dorset Council

Map showing section of B3165 treated by Dorset Council

8.6 A3015 Moor Lane to Crossing A30 – Highways England

Map showing section of A3015 treated by Highways England

Appendix 9 – Salt saturators for prewet general operation and maintenance procedure

Salt saturators for prewet

The general operation and maintenance procedure

1.0 General

  1. the saturators are set up to run automatically apart from adding salt when needed
  2. the saturators need to be checked and maintained regularly during the winter, there is also shut down and start-up procedure at either end of the season, the electrical systems should be included in the annual depot safety check
  3. there are several different types of saturator installed throughout the county, some more complex than others, the following generic maintenance checklist should be adapted where necessary for the equipment at each site and be read in conjunction with any specific literature available. representatives in each area should be familiar with the units in their area although they are managed by the term maintenance contractor

2.0 Start-up for season

  1. the saturator should be in a low-level storage situation (see the end of season section) and will need starting up
  2. restore power at the control panel
  3. turn mains water on
  4. re-enable pump isolators

3.0 Check pumps

  1. mark valve positions. switch off and isolate
  2. clean filter baskets and replace ‘o’ rings as necessary
  3. check pump impellor for damage (is there plastic debris in filter basket or bowl) and free rotation – dismantle and replace as necessary (or service exchange unit)
  4. flush with fresh water
  5. check pump body for leaks – replace as necessary (or service exchange unit)
  6. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  7. check foot valve/non-return valve (if fitted)
  8. check all associated fittings for leaks
  9. ensure that all associated valves are in correct operating order and position
  10. re-commission

4.0 Flush pipelines

  1. flush pipelines to remove any salt crystals that may have formed during shut down

5.0 Check pipes

  1. check pipes and pipe fittings for damage, tightness of joints etc

6.0 Check level switches for crystallised deposits and correct action

Float Level Switches (eg washdown sump):

  1. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  2. check level switch operation
  3. check alarm received at the panel

Level Sensors (eg saturator):

  1. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  2. check level switch operation – eg. low operates rain valve, ex-low operates a fresh valve

Level Transmitters (Ultrasonic):

  1. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  2. check level with actual contents – calibrate as necessary
  3. check alarms received at a control panel
  4. note set point and alarm values at the control panel

7.0 Check Conductivity Probe for crystallised deposits and correct action

  1. mark valve positions. switch off and isolate
  2. check electrode against a known standard – re-calibrate transmitter as necessary
  3. check all associated fittings for leaks
  4. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  5. ensure that all associated valves are in correct operating order and position
  6. note set point and alarm values at the control panel
  7. re-commission

8.0 Check Trace Heating

  1. check electrical connection for damage or water ingress
  2. check thermostat (if fitted)
  3. check each traced leg gets warm
  4. reset thermostat to +1deg (U.O.S)

9.0 Switch on a production unit and produce brine, check correct concentration on the display panel, operation of level switches/sensors, pumps, etc and other controls

  1. check main tanks for leaks and damage
  2. check all associated fittings and pipework for leaks
  3. ensure that all associated valves are in correct operating order and position
  4. visually inspect control panel for damage and check operation

10.0 Check general operation of each system

  1. check rainwater is circulating
  2. check transfer of water from a rainwater tank
  3. make brine and check fresh water and wash water top-up
  4. check motorised valve closes on power failure and when high set-point is achieved
  5. if possible fill tanker using control station in auto and manual and check that saturator is cutting in automatically as it should
  6. note all alarms enabled, check against the initial list (note differences)
  7. note all set points and alarm values

11.0 Top-up salt

  1. top up with salt and leave ready for use

12.0 Normal operation of saturator during the season

  1. the saturator should only need ‘running’ attention as salting operations are carried out. in general, if there is a salting run then the saturator will need attention but if salting is not carried out then the saturator should be checked weekly
  2. top up with salt as brine is used and check concentration. the saturator should not be overfilled and at no time should the level of salt be allowed to go above the level of the outlet
  3. keep the delivery hose in the correct storage location to avoid damage
  4. clear spillages and wash down
  5. check that the brine storage tank is refilling to the correct level. (it is possible for the float to ‘stick’ so the system does not register the storage tank is low and shows OK at the control panel)
  6. where there is a separate control cabin check lighting, oil door hinges and keep clean and free from salt
  7. check all hatches, covers etc. for security

13.0 Normal operation of spreaders

  1. spreader hopper and tanks should normally be kept empty
  2. brine tanks should be manually filled to the marked level for the route [i.e. do not use the auto cut off facility], connect hose, open taps on the spreader and saturator delivery pipe, pump brine, close taps and disconnect hose. normally, loading should take place in the afternoon for a planned pre-salt. when there is a call for an immediate action the tanks will be filled before departure
  3. load spreaders with dry salt immediately before departure
  4. on return to the depot, unused brine should be drained from the spreaders, salt emptied and vehicle washed down. during periods when an action is expected within the next 2 days and there is no significant rainfall forecast brine can be left in the spreader’s tanks for up to a maximum of 5 days

14.0 End of season run down

  1. the saturator should end the season with as low a level as possible so a decision needs to be taken to shut off the production cycle to allow the brine storage level to drop (if a sudden cold spell occurs production can easily be switched back on)
  2. timing of this will be dependant on the long-range weather forecast and the quantity of brine in a particular storage tank – can the tank refill spreaders at a depot once only or several times
  3. the shutdown procedure will depend on the design of the saturator – some are instigated from the computer control panel, others by turning off the water supply

15.0 Summer shut down

The saturator can be left in ‘shut down’ mode for many months but power must not be switched off on some units as the backup batteries for the onboard computer and monitoring sensors will not last that long, Some units also have heating elements to protect the electronics from condensation. If appropriate:

  1. isolate salt saturator
  2. isolate pumps
  3. isolate brine holding tank
  4. isolate power at the control panel
  5. isolate each pump
  6. turns mains water off
  7. check saturator for sediment and clean if required, including replacement filter bed material if a top feed unit – if only pure white salt has been used in the saturator there should be no substantial sediment
  8. check storage tank for sediment and clean if required – if only pure white salt has been used in the saturator there should be no substantial sediment
  9. drain pump casings and grease up any exposed shafts etc
  10. flush through delivery pipes etc
  11. check all hoses/fittings for damage and replace as required. only plastic pipe and stainless steel hose clips should be used, ordinary steel or chromed fittings will not last
  12. clean down and paint any exposed steelwork on access platforms etc. check the condition of the bund

16.0 Safe use of pre-wet facilities and stored water

  1. water in the storage tanks from washing down vehicles or collected rainwater is not to be used for any purpose other than making brine through the salt saturator
  2. care must be taken when filling spreader brine tanks that there are no leaks. the filling must stop if there are leaks and the leak repaired before filling tanks
  3. immediately after handling any of the pre-wet or recycling equipment, including filling gritters, hands must be washed
  4. spreader brine tanks should normally be kept empty and only filled to the level needed to complete the route. during periods when action is expected within the next 2 days and there is no significant rain forecast, brine can be left in the spreader’s tanks for up to a maximum of 5 days

Appendix 10 – Standard Safe Working Procedures

10.1 Winter Service and Other Emergency Inspections


Some employees carry out winter service or emergency inspections of the public highway to check on weather and road conditions to ensure the safe passage of the travelling public.

Usually, inspections are ordered as part of the winter service following the lunchtime forecast which should enable those involved time to prepare. Occasionally inspections are undertaken for other purposes eg flooding, and these procedures should be followed as appropriate.

Advice on Emergency Traffic Management for “First on the scene” at accidents and incidents can be found in the Ch.8 Procedure Notes on the intranet.

Planning and Preparation

If you are going to carry out an inspection you should consider the following points:

  • prepare your vehicle
  • cover the screen or garage the vehicle
  • do not consume alcohol
  • charge your mobile phone
  • check you have a working torch and spare batteries for it and the thermometer.
  • make sure you know who the other persons inspecting your area are and how to contact them.
  • retire to bed at a reasonable time if the proposed start time is after 1 am if it’s between 10 pm and 1 am considering taking a nap or rest during the evening

Starting Out

You must be properly prepared.

  • if you have been asleep or resting get up with sufficient time to wake up properly and prepare a hot flask and food to take with you
  • check your mobile phone is charged and working effectively. you must not make or receive calls whilst driving – you should stop in a safe place
  • contact the NOCC before leaving home to advise them of the inspection route you are taking and your estimated finish time and destination (i.e. home, office, depot, etc)
  • make contact with your colleagues and confirm routes
  • be aware of the conditions outside and take care
  • clear all windows on your vehicle before moving off
  • wear and take extra warm clothing


Employees should be aware of the risks involved in travelling in potentially hazardous conditions and be well prepared.

  • carry a first aid kit and emergency pack
  • do not leave your route
  • contact your colleagues at regular intervals at least ½ hourly
  • drive at a speed commensurate with conditions
  • when travelling at a slow speed (less than 25mph) or stationary have the amber flashing beacons on
  • wear a high visibility jacket whenever you are outside the vehicle
  • if the vehicle breaks down or becomes stuck in a remote location you should: contact your colleagues and NOCC; stay with the vehicle and await rescue

Finish Time

You must make contact with the other Inspectors and the NOCC to confirm completion of your inspection. If you are delayed for any reason you should notify your colleagues or NOCC.

The safety of inspectors is of paramount importance, if a planned contact between inspectors is overdue, every effort should be made by the other inspectors to make contact. If contact cannot be made within 1/2 hour the other inspectors should inform the NOCC and initiate a search.

On completion of an early morning inspection, you should take a minimum half-hour break before continuing your normal working day.

Extended Operations

In extreme circumstances continuous working may be necessary due to the extent and severity of winter conditions, in these circumstances managers should organise a shift system to ensure staff do not work excessive hours. If an employee feels that they are unable to carry out their duties satisfactorily due to tiredness they should advise their manager and take an appropriate break or be stood down from further duties. All staff must take a minimum of a half-hour break after 4 hours of continuous working.


All personnel engaged in inspections must be trained and competent in the use and maintenance of all relevant equipment and their vehicle, including emergency procedures. Those involved in winter service inspections should attend the skid car course at Devon Drivers Centre before commencing inspections and undergo a refresher every 3 years.

Further Points

Line managers must ensure there is;

  • a risk assessment and agreed method of work for inspections
  • an emergency contact and rescue procedure
  • a copy of this SSWP is given to all staff who undertake winter service activities for their retention, including any amendment of it
  • there is a training record of all those involved

Managers must check the driving licence of staff that drive any vehicle on Council business at the commencement of employment and regular intervals thereafter. On travel claims, claimants are required to confirm the validity of their licence. Staff must inform their manager and DVLC of any change in circumstances which affects their licence to drive on Council business, e.g., health difficulties, legal proceedings for motoring offences etc.

There are some directorate documents which should be read in conjunction with this note, including the Winter Service and Emergency Plan and relevant Ch.8 Procedure Notes [most are available on the Intranet].

10.2 Lone Working


This safe working procedure has been developed to assist managers and staff in developing the appropriate measures to control risks to lone workers. Lone working is not in itself a hazard, but it is a factor in risk assessment since an incident can become more serious if the person is working alone.

Definition of Lone Workers

Lone workers are those who work by themselves without direct or close supervision.
E.G. Neighbourhood Officers, Public Rights of Way Wardens, Rangers, Road Safety Officers, and any other staff who work away from the office on their own.


Managers must ensure that there is a safe system of work in place for lone workers and, that staff are given suitable and sufficient, information, instruction, training and supervision and equipment to do the job safely. Managers are also responsible for ensuring that lone working systems are effective and making changes where necessary. This might include carrying out spot checks on the system to ensure that it is working and making records of such checks.
Staff have a responsibility for their health and safety and for that of others affected by their work. They have a responsibility to inform management of any dangerous or unsafe situations that they become aware of, and to comply with the lone working procedures

Risk Assessment

General risk assessments (Form PD59) should be carried out by the line manager in consultation with the member of staff. (Refer to section 2 of the Safety Management System). These should be recorded and should include tasks where lone working is a factor. Where staff regularly work alone in a set location, such as the Devon Drivers Centre, Stover Country Park etc, a full lone working risk assessment should be developed and recorded for that activity/member of staff.

Risk assessments for lone working must take into account the individuals capabilities and competence as well as the local situation and environment. For example, new or inexperienced members of staff will require more supervision than others who are very experienced. Similarly, young people or women may be more at risk of attack than others. People who work alone must also be fit to do so and be able to respond to emergencies appropriately on their own. Some medical conditions may preclude lone working and this must also be considered in the risk assessment.


Where staff work alone but not in a fixed location, for example, Inspectors, Rangers, staff on visits etc, the general risk assessment (above) by the manager should recognise this. These members of staff must be competent to assess the risks to themselves for each lone working visit and to decide on the appropriate action including whether a ‘buddy’ is required. (See flowchart). Under normal circumstances, the daily site risk assessment by the lone worker will not need to be recorded.

Based on the risk assessment, and guidance in this SSWP, each group must develop its procedures for checking where staff are, contacting or checking on staff and responding to emergencies. These procedures must be documented and brought to the attention of all staff and any others affected by them, e.g. Network Operations Control Centre.


The flow chart indicates three basic levels of risk and the appropriate monitoring arrangements to ensure that the member of staff is safe. Staff may move from one level of risk to another during their normal working day so the level of contact may vary. If there is any doubt, the member of staff must discuss the situation with their line manager and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

First Aid

Refer to Standard Safe Working Procedure on First aid at work. Staff who work alone should have a basic four-hour emergency first aid training (First Aid for Lone Workers) and be provided with a personal first aid kit. There may be circumstances identified in the risk assessment where the member of staff requires a higher level of first aid training, or a more comprehensive first aid kit.

Information and Training

All staff who work alone must be made aware of the requirements and given access to a copy of this safe working procedure by their line manager. Staff must also be given a copy of their lone working risk assessment and have the local hazards and control measures explained to them. (Managers keep records)

Lone working staff will require training in risk assessment so that they are capable of assessing risks from lone working and knowing when to seek help. The training will also include safe working procedures and how to respond to emergencies.

Violent, Aggressive and Threatening Behaviour

Where such behaviour is assessed to be likely, lone working must be avoided. This might be by sending two members of staff or arranging the meeting in a public place etc. Even where two members of staff are sent, checks may still be necessary to see that they are ok.

It is recommended that lone workers are given training in dealing with conflict. Refer also to SSWP on Dealing with Conflict and SSWP on Accident and Incident Reporting. Form PO20 is used to report incidents of aggressive or threatening behaviour and line managers should ensure that the details of such reports are considered in the risk assessments, so that staff are made aware of potentially aggressive people. The County Council Policy on Acceptable Behaviour can be found on the Corporate Intranet site. See the Health Safety and Welfare homepage.


In addition to County Council Staff, managers should consider the safety of others who work alone on behalf of the County Council such as contractors and volunteers. These groups must produce a suitable risk assessment and develop safe working procedures.

Further Advice can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website Lone Working Guidance


For inspections, the existing SSWP will apply, see section 3.1 of the safety management system.

Emergency Call Outs

Staff on emergency call outs must follow the medium risk procedure (see flowchart).

Flow chart for staff on emergency call outs

Suggested Emergency Procedure to be followed by the buddy or NOCC staff

You should only initiate this procedure if the officer is more than half an hour late in responding or returning to base.

  1. try to contact the missing officer on their mobile phone, radio etc, including checking if they went straight home but avoid causing alarm to partner etc
  2. if no response is achieved, inform the line manager or next senior manager
  3. attempt to contact anyone that officer was visiting that day to confirm if they arrived and when they left and any information about their likely whereabouts
  4. check with the emergency services if the officer has been involved in any known incidents. (local hospital, police, )
  5. try and contact officer again, if no response, the line manager must assess the risk and decide whether to organise a search along the known route they would have been using. the line manager must decide who will carry out the search in consultation with the NOCC. [note: if searchers are lone workers, the above procedure applies to them as well.] if conditions are bad, the line manager may decide against sending out a searcher and contact the emergency services straight away
  6. if after a search the missing person still is not found, the line manager must inform the emergency services (police.) and NOCC

Staff must inform line managers of any relevant changes such as new phone numbers, change of address, change of vehicle details etc. Line managers must then pass on the relevant information to the NOCC. Staff must not take unnecessary risks and must take care of their own health and safety. Staff must inform buddies or responsible person of any changes to visit route, timings etc.

Line managers must ensure that staff records are kept up-to-date and that the Highway Operations Control Centre is updated on any new mobile phone numbers. Staff must be trained in simple risk assessment so that they are capable of making basic assessments in the course of their jobs.

10.3 Guidance on Risk Assessment for Lone Workers

Personal Risk Assessment Advice

Employees should carry out their risk assessment before undertaking any work activity. This should include as a basic minimum a consideration of the following:

  1. do you know where your work location is?
  2. is there a generic assessment for the task?
  3. do you have protective equipment you may need?
  4. do you require specialist equipment?
  5. are there any specific safe working procedures for the task?
  6. does someone know the location you are going to?
  7. do you have a means of communicating with that person or others?
  8. have you booked out and informed your control of any time restrictions?
  9. do you know what to do should an accident/incident occur?
  10. have you vetted the person you are going to meet?

On arrival at the Worksite

  1. can you park safely – is signing in required?
  2. are there any mandatory requirements for the site?
  3. is there safe access to and from the site?

10.4 Guidance for the Management of Lone Working (Risk Assessment)

Task Analysis

Are there any hazards which you could reasonably expect to result in significant harm due to conditions of the work area. Additionally, have you considered the compound effect from a combination of hazards? Record each hazard and state how the particular risk associated with the hazard has been overcome.

Task Analysis – Aide memoir

The following list is not exhaustive and should be used only as a memory jogger, by employees and managers to determine the maximum information about the task and working environment, and as an aid to producing the risk assessment.

  • Ability (personal)
  • Access and egress
  • Accidents
  • After hours
  • Aggression and violence
  • Animals
  • Cash
  • Chemicals
  • Communications
  • Competency
  • Complaints (previous)
  • Electrics
  • Environment
  • Equipment (vehicles)
  • Experience
  • Fire
  • First Aid
  • Ground conditions
  • Heights
  • Illness
  • Instructions
  • Ladders/scaffolding
  • Lighting
  • Machinery
  • Manual handling
  • Night work
  • Noise
  • Parking
  • Permits to work
  • Protective clothing
  • Remoteness
  • Restriction
  • Road signs
  • Specialist equipment
  • Signing
  • Travellers
  • Test equipment
  • Time constraints
  • Toilets
  • Tools
  • Training
  • Traffic
  • Trenches
  • Trip/slip/fall hazards
  • Weather
  • Warning devices
  • Water
  • People
  • Gender
  • Living alone
  • Confined spaces

Where employees are visiting or meeting service users, clients or members of the public, managers must take into account any past incidents of violence, their attitude or known behavioural problems of the individuals.

Working alone can add additional risks to work activity. Managers must establish clear procedures on what can and what cannot be done when carrying out a work task. Managers must ensure that the lone worker has full knowledge of all known and considered hazards and the risk associated with a specific task. They must know the lone worker’s whereabouts and have a means of communicating with them where appropriate. They should have contingency plans for any breakdown in communications or any other emergency which could develop. Consideration should be given to:

  • The Lone Worker
    Have they had sufficient professional training and / or experience for the task? Have they the ability and qualifications to carry out the task? Are they medically fit, have a suitable personality and attitude?
  • The Task
    Are there any statutory requirements associated with it? i.e. confined spaces. Does the employee understand all hazards and risks associated with the task and the steps taken to reduce risks to the lowest extent reasonably practicable?
    Have modifications occurred in the task since it was last assessed?
    Does the worker carry out the task as it was assessed or use a short cut? Are time scales realistic for completion of the task? Is the client a known alcoholic, drug addict, or have a medical condition or criminal behaviour, recognised by one of the authorities?
  • Working Environment
    Is the environment or terrain of high-risk geographical nature or known trouble spot? Could there be any rapid changes in climatic conditions or association with a severe weather climate? Does the nature of the environment place any limitations on the task or worker, or does the remoteness or isolation require an experienced worker? Is criminal activity a consideration or interference or wilful damage a possibility particularly from children?
    Do the lone worker’s activities impact on those of the premises being visited i.e. for accidents or communications?


How is this achieved, with what frequency, can contact be initiated by the worker or can it be initiated by the Supervisor. Levels of supervision should complement information, instruction and training and give guidance in situations of uncertainty. Supervision will depend on the risks involved and the proficiency and experience of the employee. The supervisor must stress that where the lone worker finds themselves in a hazardous situation, to withdraw without fear or prejudice.

Training, Instruction and Information

Has the employee been informed and given all necessary and relevant information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to recognise and minimise the hazards and appreciate the risks involved whilst lone working? Is it recorded?


Should be commensurate with the risks involved. Should be easily and readily utilised. May include mobile phone, pager, personal alarm, handheld or vehicle two-way radio. Is coverage complete i.e. is the phone/radio signal strength adequate? Decide on the frequency of communication? This may range from monitoring checks, a regular pattern of calls or an automatic device if period signals aren’t received.
Are records kept of where staff are, how long away, when returning, and the contact name and numbers of staff working away from the base, together with their current vehicle details? What contingency plans for a breakdown of communications are required?
Remember – communication can give a false sense of security and may increase risk rather than reducing it in some circumstances.

First Aid

What is the location of the nearest first aid kit and availability of a competent first aider, for treatment of injuries? (See SSWP on First Aid at Work)

Suitability of equipment

The selection and use must be in line with the requirements of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. It is imperative that only the tools supplied by the employer are used and as instructed. Tools must have a planned system of maintenance. Standby equipment should be earmarked for emergencies in the event of equipment failure. Can the equipment be safely handled by one person?

Accident and Emergency Procedures

Are the physical and mental abilities of the individual capable of responding to the incident correctly and in a specified manner? What procedures are in place for reporting accidents or incidents. What action should be taken if an employee fails to call in or report back, who is to be notified? Who is the contact during out of hours work? Consider equipment failure, uncontrolled exposure to harmful agents, illness, physical assault or vehicle breakdown.

Personal Protective Equipment

Determined by the risk assessment, and in line with the requirements of Personal Protective Equipment Regulations. Supervisory checks are critical to its continued safe use.

Personal Preparedness

Achieved through work planning and validation of procedures used.

Double Staffing

Should a particular risk be incapable of being eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable, double staffing may have to be considered as part of a safe system of work. Additional advice should be obtained before work commencing

Can premises be reached by ordinary vehicles and will weather further affect this? Suitability, maintenance and servicing of vehicles. Are courses in defensive driving necessary?

Contact with the Public or Animals

92% of violent crime is related to direct contact with the public. Is cash to be handled?
Is it feasible that an animal will be used to provoke an attack?

Permits to work

Particularly where risk is considered high or where specific legal requirements exist, some or all of the above procedures may be contained in a written permit to work and without which the activity may not take place. Where time limits are a consideration from exposure or fatigue the permit to work should state the start / stop time or maximum duration of the task.

Safety When Approaching Or Opening The Workplace

  • when approaching the workplace, be alert. If you see a broken window, signs of forced entry, or insecure door, assume that someone is on the premises. Go to a safe place and telephone the police immediately. Inform your line manager if necessary.
  • do not go into the workplace to use the telephone

Safety When Leaving Or Closing The Workplace

  • check the premises are secure before you leave
  • look outside to check that no-one is hanging around. if you see someone prowling or lurking outside, do not go out alone to check, stay inside and telephone the police
  • if you are usually collected by car, wait until it arrives before going out. similarly, if you are travelling by public transport, do not leave the workplace so early that you have to wait a long time for the bus or train

Practical points in dealing with possible conflict situations during a visit to the public, site, a service user’s or client’s home

  • park your car so that it can be driven away easily
  • park in a well lit area near other vehicles if possible
  • stay alert when approaching the property, look around the garden for obvious dangers such as dogs/prowlers etc
  • after knocking / ringing, stand back and to the side of the door.
  • if you have to look through a letter box, do not look directly in, try to observe from the side or use a small mirror
  • do not stand on the edge of the steps
  • be careful of milk bottles / dustbins / lids or other potential weapons
  • ask for any dogs or other pets to be secured where appropriate
  • note the way in and out, type of catch / lock on the door and how to operate it
  • assess the situation and mood of the person you are meeting. if in any doubt or you feel threatened do not enter, make an excuse and leave. note any other people in the property and their mood
  • only sit down when the service user/client does
  • sit in an upright chair (easier to stand up from and / or use as defensive barrier). if you have to sit in an armchair or settee, sit on the edge near the arm, this will allow you to stand up more easily
  • keep the exit door on your side of the room
  • note any objects/items that could be used as a weapon
  • if the situation changes and you feel threatened, make an excuse and leave
  • walk backwards rather than turning your back on the service user/client
  • try to leave with dignity – it may help any future dealings with the service user/client
  • if you are unable to leave, and the situation warrants, it may be necessary to take further action such as:
  • set off your personal attack alarm or scream / shout to attract the attention of others – this may distract the service user/client long enough to allow you to escape
  • use crysis to alert someone. this could be done by answering the call but deliberately inputting the emergency code
  • if physically threatened, try to use a barrier such as a table / chair (not as a weapon, but as a defensive measure)

Safety In The Car

  • always lock your car when leaving it and consider locking the doors in slow moving traffic if there is a risk of someone trying to get in
  • plan your route
  • check you have not left your lights on when leaving your car
  • have your car keys in your hand so you can get straight into the vehicle
  • look around your car as you approach in case someone is crouching down
  • look inside before entering your car to ensure no one is hiding there – even if the doors were locked – use a torch if necessary
  • if you are followed in your car, do not get out, ensure that it is locked, flash your lights and sound the horn to attract attention
  • try not to park in dark, deserted streets or car parks. whenever possible, make your car a social creature (safety in numbers)
  • never drive nose first into a parking space; reverse in so you can be ready to leave quickly if necessary
  • if you must use a multi-storey car park, try to park on the ground floor as stairs and lifts can be dangerous places. have the correct change ready for the
  • machine. remember you can always drive your car right up to the ticket machine to get your exit ticket
  • don’t linger longer than necessary and keep alert at all times
  • always carry a torch with you
  • if in difficulty and a stranger offers to help, do not get out of your car – ask the person to phone for help. (the safest way to help a stranded motorist is to stop at the next telephone and call for assistance)
  • if possible always travel on busy roads, avoid isolated areas
  • be careful if someone flags you down on a quiet road. make sure it is a genuine emergency before you wind down the window or unlock your door. if you are in any doubt, drive on and call the police
  • if you have been requested to stop by someone purporting to be a police officer and have any doubts about them, i.e. they are in plain clothes, ask to see their warrant card before you open the window or door
  • ensure your car has sufficient petrol for the journey
  • join a motoring/breakdown organisation

Safety In The Street

  • be alert, walk with purpose and confidence: don’t skulk in the shadows with hunched shoulders
  • avoid short cuts through unlit or deserted areas such as alleys or waste ground
  • do not overload yourself with packages or bags
  • walk near to the kerb edge and away from buildings and alleys so that someone lurking in an alley has further to come to reach you
  • whenever possible, do not walk alone
  • walk facing the traffic so that a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed
  • when walking along a street you may feel that someone is pursuing you on foot. try crossing the road to confirm your suspicions. if you are still being followed then make your way to the closest place where people are likely to be, e.g. a pub, launderette or house with lights on. as soon as you can, telephone the police from a safe place
  • kerb-crawlers: don’t acknowledge its presence; continue walking briskly. if persistent, make a mental note of the car registration number, turn and walk briskly in the opposite direction. (it is more difficult for the kerb-crawler to reverse). if someone approaches for directions, don’t let them get too close. keep your distance!
  • if you carry a handbag, keep it close to your body. if someone grabs your bag, it is better to let it go rather than risk injury. your safety is more important than your handbag or other belongings
  • if you must carry a large sum of money, divide it up and put some in your pocket or other parts of your clothing and some in your bag
  • cheque-books and cards should be kept separate
  • do not carry your keys in your handbag – put them in your pocket
  • if you carry a mobile telephone, ensure that it is easily accessible and consider pre-setting your emergency call number

Safety In Reception / Interview Areas

  • when dealing with a service user/client, remember, what may appear to be a trivial matter to you, maybe perceived by them as a real crisis.
    they will be looking to you for help, assistance, advice etc., therefore try to be sympathetic, respect their feelings and show concern, it may help prevent a potentially violent situation from developing
  • try not to keep people waiting for lengthy periods – if this is unavoidable, keep them informed of what is happening – ignoring them (even by accident), could lead to an escalation of the situation
  • interview room doors should be fitted with an appropriate window, so other employees can observe in cases of emergency
  • an “alarm system” should be provided, with agreed procedures in place, and all employees should know what to do when the alarm sounds
  • the use of a “code word”, which can be used to warn managers and colleagues that a situation is escalating, could be the signal for support to be provided without alerting the service user/client
  • seating arrangements should be such that employees are positioned near a door – this would allow a quick escape route in an emergency
  • the provision of suitable toys for children to play with will help relieve their boredom and hopefully reduce tension while service users/clients are waiting to be seen
  • careful selection of furniture and fittings is essential, consideration should be given as to their potential to be used as a weapon against employees or other people

To Reduce The Risk Of Provocation

  • introduce yourself politely
  • express clearly and concisely your reasons for being there and any actions you are taking
  • avoid criticism of the person you’re talking to
  • avoid unfriendly gestures
  • leave yourself an alternative course of action
  • show no fear/apprehension
  • stay calm
  • show sympathy (even if false)
  • possibly use humour, but with care
  • keep talking (active listening – don’t look bored or look away)
  • remain engaged in conversation with the person
  • use the ‘broken record’ technique i.e. repetition of key statements

What To Do If A Difficult Situation Occurs

Try to defuse the situation

  • listen and acknowledge that the person is distressed
  • perhaps something can be done to help?

Help the person to feel in control of themselves

  • remain calm and don’t take the aggression/abuse personally

If you feel at risk from violence

  • leave the situation immediately and report the occurrence

If unable to leave protect yourself

  •  place barriers between yourself and the assailant – continue talking and tell the Service User / Client you mean them no harm
  • use reasonable force to protect yourself if necessary and only as a means of last resort

Observe people’s behaviour closely and be aware of non-verbal communication (‘body language’)

  • facial expression
  • eye contact
  • tone of voice
  • physical touch
  • appearance
  • posture
  • proximity
  • hand and foot movement

Use Of Self-Defence

The law concerning the use of Self Defence was clearly described in the Appeal Judgement given in Palmer V Regina 1971 and still applies today. The judge stated:

“It is both good law and common sense that a man who is attacked may defend himself. It is both good law and common sense that he may do, but may only do, what is reasonably necessary. But everything will depend on the particular circumstances”.

The following points should give some guidance on the legal use of force as a means of self-defence:

  • self-defence is permitted in law
  • self-defence is permitted in law to the extent of what is ‘reasonably necessary’ to stop the attack
  • self-defence is not permitted in law beyond what is ‘reasonably necessary’ in time and degree to stop the attack

What Is a Reasonable Force?

  • each situation is different, and what may be deemed as the reasonable force used to defend oneself when a drunken thug attacks you with a broken bottle in the street, may not be deemed as reasonable in a social services day centre when dealing with a service user with learning difficulties
  • extreme care must be taken in using force as a means of self-defence, and if the only consideration is your safety, then escape should be your first option
  • the use of restraint techniques (control & restraint) should only be used by those employees appropriately trained

Reference Section Of Publications

Safe work in confined spaces. Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.
Approved Code of Practice
L101 HSE Books 1997 0 7176 1405 0
Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
HSR25 HSE Books 1989 ISBN 0 7176 1602 9
HSE leaflet Violence at work INDG89 HSE Books 1997
Single copies free, multiple copies in priced packs ISBN 0 7176 1271 6
HSE leaflet Working Alone in Safety INDG73(rev)

Risk assessment

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Approved Code of Practice and guidance L21 (second edition)
HSE Books 1999 ISBN 0 7176 2488 9
HSE free leaflet Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations1992. Updated to include changes affecting young people and new and expectant mothers MISC079 HSE Books 1997.
HSE leaflet 5 steps to risk assessment INDG163(rev1) HSE Books 1998. Single copies free, multiple copies in priced packs ISBN 0 7176 1565 0.