New technology is to be introduced to Bolton’s gritting trucks this winter as plans are revealed for the treatment of roads during colder weather.

The changes will include trials of ‘automated salting’ on lorries, which means the amounts of salt is released by technology in the vehicle and not by the driver.

The highways department of Bolton Council is also reviewing treatment routes over the next 12 months with a view to creating new ones on a ‘risk based approach’.

Bolton Council currently carries out gritting on 317 miles of main traffic routes which is around 51 per cent of the network in the borough.

In a report to the cabinet member for highways and transport this week, the highways senior engineer put forward the case for automated salting which is designed to ensure precise ‘spread widths and symmetry’.

The report, stated: ” Automated salting by the gritter is becoming more common place.

“It means that the gritter in-accordance with pre-planned instructions, controls where and how much salt is dropped onto the highway.

“We have designed our route instructions and our current vehicle supplier, ECON Ltd, now has the ability to utilise this technology and implement automation of treatment.

“Over the 2019/20 season the automation trials where postponed as resources to verify outcomes where not available.

“Automation is not without risk and currently it is thought that the drivers are best placed to carry out the task of spreading salt in the right place.”

The report adds: “Trial salt spreading automation will be introduced during the 2020/21 season to establish the potential benefits.”

A review of last winter’s activity showed the council carried out 73 full route grits and nine partial grits, which compares to Bolton’s eight year average of 81 full route grits.

The report, said: “The winter season 2019/20 in Bolton contained very few snow events and was primarily governed by prolonged periods of marginal temperatures.

“This resulted in an average number of treatments and the winter passing without serious alarm.”

As well as route gritting, the council provides 533 grit bins placed around the borough to allow local residents’ self help during freezing weather conditions.

At this week’s meeting the executive cabinet member noted the winter service review and approved the proposals for 2020/21 winter