Temperature sensors to be installed on Norfolk roads in trial to see if grit runs can be cut

A gritting lorry out on the roads in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

A gritting lorry out on the roads in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Temperature monitoring sensors are to be trialled on some of Norfolk's roads - to see if money can be saved by not gritting them.

Councillor Graham Middleton. Picture: Ian Burt

Councillor Graham Middleton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Great Yarmouth is to serve as a trial for the new technology and, depending on the results, it could be rolled out further.

The pilot will see low-cost road surface temperature sensors embedded in roads in Yarmouth to gather data up until the end of the winter season in April next year.

The data from those sensors will be used to determine whether the town could be treated less than currently, saving salt, fuel and driver time.

The council says it will save money, but would also bring environmental benefits, including a reduction in carbon emissions.

The cost of each gritting treatment in Great Yarmouth is estimated at £540.

Officers say that significant parts of Yarmouth, due to its urban nature, are likely to be warmer than the rest of the gritting area they are in.

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Under the current system, gritting of the entire area is triggered when existing roadside centres record a certain temperature.

That might not tell the whole story for all roads and the council says it might be the case that not all roads are cold enough to require gritting.

But the council does not currently have sufficient data on road surface temperatures to prove if this is the case or not.

A number of suppliers have expressed an interest in working with Norfolk County Council, including supplying sensors on loan for free, so the trial can be done.

Suitable locations to install the trial sensors will be identified using thermal mapping data and Google Street View.

As well as strategic locations around Great Yarmouth, a control site will be chosen at one of the existing roadside weather stations and also a demo site within the County Hall grounds.

Graham Middleton, Conservative councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley, said: 'I am really looking forward to seeing what the results are.

'If this does work, then, on paper, there could be quite significant savings across the whole country.'

A long range, low power wireless platform will be used to provide the necessary data coverage across Yarmouth.

The council's priority one and two gritting network is than more 2,100 miles long, with 49 individual routes, each with its own gritter and two drivers.

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