Salt bins

Salt bins are provided at various locations throughout the county to allow drivers and pedestrians to treat localised icy conditions. The bins contain a salt/sand mix which is solely for use on public roads and pavements and should not be used for private driveways.

We currently have in the region of 1000 salt bins in Essex and each fill of the salt bin network takes approximately 350 man hours, uses up to 1000 tonnes of salt and takes over 3 weeks to complete.

Existing bins are stocked as part of our normal stocking programme and will not be filled on an ad hoc basis during the winter.

Throughout the winter our priority is to ensure the precautionary gritting network is secure. Only when this activity is completed can resources (manpower, equipment and salt) be deployed to other areas.

To view the locations of our salt bins go to our Salt bin map, below. Zoom to the area you wish to see.

Stocking programme

Our bins are stocked prior to the winter season.

A second stocking would be actioned following a significant and prolonged snow event if resources allow; priority will be directed to salting the network. (See our Salting Routes page.)

Privately-owned bins

If a bin is not shown on this map it could be a privately owned bin, purchased by a Parish or District Council, Residents Association or member of the public. Privately owned bins are not stocked by Essex Highways. If a Parish or District Council, Residents Association or individual member of the public want to purchase their own salt bin and install it on private land (with the landowners agreement) they will then be responsible for maintenance and stocking of the bin.

How you can help

Clearing snow is the most effective way of keeping traffic flowing as this avoids snow compacting. Once compacted the snow turns to ice and salt has little or no effect. If this happens the local community could purchase grit or builder sand instead of salt and spread it over the top to provide some traction. 

We developed our Salt Bag Partnership with Parish and Town Councils and County Councillors covering urban un-parished wards to help local communities support themselves during periods of heavy snow. To find out more and how you can get involved visit our FAQ page.

Buying salt

If you would like to purchase salt for your own use or your privately owned bin, larger supermarkets, garden centres and some garages stock supplies from the beginning of winter.

Salt bin audit

We have completed an audit of all our salt bins to assess their location and condition and to make the most effective use of them. Essex Highways will continue to stock our existing salt bins in lines with our normal stocking programme. If a bin becomes unusable it will need to meet criteria for replacement. If it meets the criteria, a replacement will be actioned as part of our maintenance programme. During the winter season priority will be given to salting the network.

Salt bin criteria:

  • A salt bin should not be located on the precautionary salting network (however, it could be on a junction with a non-salted road) and;
  • The bin would need to be located on a steep incline with a gradient greater than 5% for a minimum length of 50m OR on a sharp bend radius less than 500m with a speed limit greater than 30mph and;
  • The bin should not be located within 200 metres of another salt bin (by walking distance, not as the crow flies).

Salt bin misuse and issues

There are a number of considerations which require effective management so that bins are fit for purpose

  • Stealing of salt - Some bins are emptied soon after stocking or for re-sale.
  • Private Use - The salt is for use on the public highway only, however reports are made of the salt being used for private use (i.e. driveways or on private land).
  • Vandalism/Damage - An on-going maintenance concern.
  • Contamination - Some bins are used as rubbish bins, the contaminated waste requires emptying and disposal prior to filling.
  • Non-use - Some bins are not used and require the salt to be chipped out prior to re-stocking as it has solidified over the year.

Should an existing salt bin owned by us (within the public highway) prove problematic because of regular misuse of salt for the treatment of private driveways, or vandalism, we reserves the right to remove it.

Damaged or vandalised bins

If a bin becomes unusable because the bin is damaged or vandalised the criteria will be applied to see if it qualifies to be replaced which may be outside of the winter season as resources will be directed to salting the network. It will then be stocked in lines with our normal stocking programme, not on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.

Missing or stolen bins

If a bin is shown on the map but is now missing/stolen the criteria will be applied to its mapped location and if it qualifies it will be replaced, which may be outside of the winter season as priority will be directed to salting the network. It will then be stocked in line with our normal stocking programme, not on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.

Found bins

Bins which are not shown on the map may be privately owned. If it is found to be a bin owned by us then the location will be assessed to see if it meets the criteria. It will be added to the map and if it meets criteria will be shown as an active bin and will be stocked in line with our normal stocking programme, not on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.

New bin requests

All requests for salt bins to be installed at a new location (i.e. not already on the map below) need to be made via your County Councillor or Parish Council where applicable. If they consider the request appropriate they will forward the details to Essex Highways’ Highways Liaison Team who will arrange for the required assessment and if successful, forward it to the Local Highways Panel (LHP) for funding consideration. You can check the Local Highway Panel minutes for the outcome of your request. These can be found online under the relevant borough / city / district council area.

If the proposed bin location is suitable (i.e. is in a location that allows for stocking/use, doesn’t reduce visibility, and meets the criteria) the LHP will consider the cost of the bin and installation and Essex Highways will thereafter stock and maintain it. Your County Member or Parish Council will be able to update you on the progress. Funding approval will be the decision of the Local Highway Panel based on priorities in the District as a whole, they will make recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Maintenance and Small Schemes.

Delivery of the bin will be in line with the forward programme and once installed the bin will be stocked in line with our normal stocking programme, not on an Ad Hoc basis.

There are alternatives to salt bins which may be more appropriate such as the Parish and Urban Salt Bag Partnership which allows the communities to target areas of concern that are not on our salting routes providing local control of the salt supplied once they sign up to the scheme.

Salt bin map