There is no doubt that climate change is happening. Since 2002, the UK has experienced 10 of its hottest ever years on record. Climate change and global warming means winter weather as we knew it is fast disappearing. So how will this affect industries that rely upon cold weather, like winter service gritting? Can we expect to say a permanent goodbye to snow clearance, grit bins and road gritting altogether?
Nationwide Gritting service UK Gritting says absolutely not! Even with warmer winters, you will still need to have a winter maintenance plan in place. The need for protection against legal claims for slips trips and falls will still be vital for any business that has premises used by customers, staff and visitors.
In July 2019, the appearance of gritting lorries between sweltering traffic jams became a regular sight. On instruction from local council managers, the vehicles followed much the same road network routes at they would between November and March for salt spreading. Except this time they weren’t putting rock salt down, they were laying fine sand. Known as ‘dusting’, the technique is designed to ‘de-stick’ melting tarmac in 30 degree heat. The alternative to not doing that is basically blobs of tarmac sticking to vehicle tyres, taking chunks of the road surface with it. It goes without saying, this is almost as unsafe and costly as it is to drive on as ice.
Being able to adapt to the impacts of climate change is going to be critical for all business. So does that mean that UK Gritting is about to start ‘summer gritting’?
The short answer is no. We still anticipate plenty of need for winter gritting!
Despite road temperatures not dropping as low in the future, we still expect to regularly see temperatures drop to the freezing point of zero degrees in winter. That means freezing rain and dangerous black ice on the roads and that means hazards will still remain very real.
Regardless of warmer winters overall, short sharp cold snaps are still going to be a part of the UK weather. Ice and snow means you’ll still need to plan ahead and be ready. A professional gritting company has access to the latest weather forecasting technology and monitor the weather daily. That means you’ll always be prepared for any eventuality and your business won’t be hindered by icy conditions.
That said, we’d be foolish not to account for the increased amount of water we’ll be dealing with.
According to The Climate Change Committee, our weather systems are set to fundamentally change.
This is largely thanks to the rising sea levels as a result of global warming. Increased temperatures caused by excess CO2 in the atmosphere, have meant that polar glaciers have begun to melt at an alarming rate. A process known as ‘the big thaw’.
The once frozen ice, pours fresh water continually into the oceans causing sea levels to increase. To add to the mix, the temperature within the oceans has also risen, causing the water to expand.
These warming oceans evaporate into the atmosphere, which alters the amount of water and energy in the air. It’s thought that the rise in temperature of the Atlantic Ocean is solely responsible for half of the wet season changes in the Amazon rainforest.
But back to the UK. This wetter weather will almost certainly mean weather stations flagging more flooding in the UK during winter season. But what does it mean for our private and public roads and what does all this rain mean for gritting?
The truth is, weather conditions in the UK will always be volatile. Businesses will still need winter maintenance contracts to ensure their business grounds are kept safe. The fact that it will still get cold enough for ice to form, means continued litigation and claims for slips trips and falls at work.
As a business owner and facilities manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure your road surfaces, pavements and general site is as safe as reasonably possible.
Find out more about how slips trips and falls can affect your workplace in our blog ‘Slips Trips and falls on your site – Risk assessment action for your business’.
Anyone that has control over any green space is now encouraged to step up and maximise green infrastructure at every opportunity. That includes grounds maintenance companies like Grounds Care Group.
Water will be a big buzz word and not just because of floods. Along with the proliferate rainfall, we’ll suffer summer droughts too, which means water preservation will be paramount. Any company dealing with water should look for methods to reduce, reuse and recycle it wherever possible.
As water becomes more of a precious commodity, we are likely to see environmental policies introduced. All companies are expected to take heed of the upcoming problems of water shortages.
The Royal Horticultural society report in 2017 ‘Gardening in a Changing Climate’ details how average UK temperature will continue to rise by as much as 2 degrees in the next century. In the south, weather is generally expected to get drier and hotter, whilst in the north it will become wetter.
That means that anyone that owns or manages outdoor green space should already be taking steps to mitigate changes made by global warming.
A perspicacious Grounds maintenance business will invariably be ready and prepared to adapt to these new regular conditions too.
Part of those adaptations will be
Read more about why soil health is so important in our blog ‘Why Healthy Soil is important for the landscape and the environment.
In terms of winter gritting, we may well get more used to the sight of a gritting lorry spreading sand for melting roads. But they won’t be able to stop salting, gritting and snow clearance.
Like grounds management, we anticipate a more intensive approach to the environmental impact. From an environmentally friendly perspective, grit laying companies could be much more precise about salt quantities. We know that excess salt kills surrounding plant life. We also know that gritting salt can end up washing into waterways and affecting rivers, lakes and ponds, so it’s vital that it is carefully measured and not over used.
UK Gritting is passionate about sustainability, just like our parent company Grounds Care Group. We already have a number of modern technologies in place that prevent wasting salt and unnecessary gritting.
To learn more about how gritting can be more environmentally friendly, why not check out our blog ‘How Road Grit and Gritting can be Eco Too’.
Ultimately, we know that every one of us needs to tighten our belts and focus on waste reduction in every sense.
Grounds Care Group and UK Gritting take the climate crisis seriously. From better water management, to planting wildflower meadows that help bee populations… From using less salt in our gritting techniques to advising customers on native more carbon capturing trees, we’re firmly focused on improving our green credentials at every opportunity.
Green spaces are an investment, not just in your business premises looking pretty, but as an asset that contributes to a better, healthier planet. By changing the way we manage grounds maintenance (in whichever area), we have an opportunity to reduce any negative environmental impact.
We highly recommend that, as grounds maintenance contractors, you allow us to help you audit your site to see where it might be possible to maximise green infrastructure. Any changes can be incorporated into your regular maintenance so that costs are kept down as green space help to contribute to your business eco conduct.
For a no obligation green survey or winter maintenance contract, why not pop us an email or call us. Our extensive offerings cover every aspect of grounds maintenance and we take great pride in developing exceptional and long-lasting business relationships with our customers!