Clearing roads in Winter? It’s Snow-Joke!

What farmers should consider before offering to clear rural roads during winter

The start of 2021 saw its fair share of snow and icy conditions, and the 2021/2022 winter may be no different with people finding themselves waking up to treacherous driving conditions and cut off from essential services. In this blog, we explore what farmers should consider before offering to clear rural roads.

Winter Road Maintenance
What should you consider when offering to undertake winter road maintenance?

"Those who live in rural communities, will often find themselves stranded during heavy snowfall, unlike their urban counterparts, where main roads receive consistent gritting and clearing.

With reports of armies of farmers heading out to rescue those stranded in the 2021 snow drifts, using their heavy machinery to dig out motorists, you may yourself be considering getting out in the snow to help clear roads or tow out unfortunate drivers. But, the question you should be asking yourself, is whether there is anything that you should be considering before offering your assistance.

The answer is the same for most things and that’s to be cautious and make sure you have all the facts and that you have considered the following points:


The most important thing that you should consider is the insurance implications of going out and clearing and towing other people’s property. Always check with your insurer that, if you make a mistake whilst out and about, you are going to be covered under your liability insurance (and it’s an adequate amount!). If you alert them to your intentions, then generally you should be fine, but it’s always safer to check.

Winter Ready

Before going anywhere, check that your own kit is ready for winter and the snow. Are you going out in a proper roadworthy machine that has all of the necessary safety equipment and has more than adequate traction and capabilities?


Make sure that you have sufficient supplies with you in the cab, should you find yourself stranded, or indeed, set for a long day of rescuing motorists. Consider taking blankets, hot sugary drinks and food, as well as medical kit. Keep your phone charged should you need to request the assistance of emergency services for any injured parties.

Council Contract

Have you considered seeking out any contracts or help from your local authority. Some councils offer payments for keeping routes clear via winter maintenance schemes. It may be worth having a chat with your local council and seeing what might be available on a formal basis.


Is there any preemptive gritting/salting that you can do in your area or as above, help the council tackle more areas?

Helping those in your community can be an extremely rewarding feeling, but just make sure that you’re protected against any liability before undertaking that good deed."

Need further advice on this topic?

Please do not hesitate to contact the CLA South West team if you have further questions regarding this article.

This article was originally written in February 2021 by former CLA South West staff member, Will Langer, Rural Surveyor.