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HVO gritters gear up for winter across North Northamptonshire

Parking, roads and transport

27 October 2022

Delegates in front of a gritting lorry

North Northamptonshire Council is getting ready for harsher weather conditions as Kier Highways, the council’s highways provider, deploys its fleet of gritters to take on precautionary gritting routes.  

The contractor activated winter working protocols in mid-October, with the season set to run through to April next year. 

The gritters, which are powered by sustainably sourced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), will cover over 821 miles (1,841km) of the councils’ road network - which is the equivalent of driving from Northamptonshire to Dundee and back.

The Council has reserves of 2,500 tonnes of salt, with 643 grit bins across the region filled for use on public roads and footpaths. 

Preparing for winter is an all-year-round task and requires extensive analysis of previous weather conditions to make informed decisions about priority gritting routes. We’re working hard to ensure minimal disruption to road-users throughout the autumn/winter period.

We will deliver a value for money service by sharing resources and intelligence with West Northamptonshire Council, via our highways partner, Kier. After considerable preparation, we are now in a strong position to grit the roads as soon as forecasts predict the weather to drop below 0.5C.
Cllr Graham Lawman, executive member for highways, travel and assets for North Northamptonshire Council
Keeping North Northants moving when severe weather strikes is essential and I’m pleased that we’ve prepared robustly for the coming winter.Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

The fleet of gritters uses HVO with immediate effect, which reduces the carbon produced from combustion engines by up to 90% compared to diesel. The move demonstrates Kier and NNC’s shared commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Enhanced weather forecasting and temperature readings will be taken via weather stations and sensors set out along North Northamptonshire’s roads, with updates sent every 15 minutes. 

Through route-based forecasting, routes will be treated if the temperatures are forecasted to drop below 0.5C.

The gritters are also fitted with advanced GPS technology which requires only one person to operate the vehicle in clear conditions, by accumulating route data and reporting back to the office to ensure that works are safely delivered.

The UK faces increasingly unpredictable weather year-on-year. Even once a road has received a gritting treatment, the salt requires activation from the movement of vehicles – so road users should remain vigilant.
With crews on standby 24/7, we’re confident in the steps that we’ve taken to be winter-ready, and we actively encourage feedback from the community to help us to continue to deliver a resilient and reliable service.
John Coombes, general manager at Kier Highways

Low stocks of grit bin salt that require refilling can be reported online via the Street Doctor service.

People can keep up to date with highways and travel news for North Northamptonshire Council highways on Twitter and Facebook via @NNCHighways.