They are vital for keeping Scotland’s roads network clear in the winter but come with a huge carbon footprint.

But now an electric gritting vehicle, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the world, will help with efforts to keep Scotland’s roads clear of snow while dramatically reducing carbon emissions.

Transport Scotland bosses announced the state-of-the-art 100 per cent electric spreading vehicle will be trialled over the coming months.

The Electra vehicle, which is part of a fleet of 123 gritters based at more than
40 depots across the country, will undertake patrols on the Queensferry Crossing and the Forth Road Bridge, which is still used by buses.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the move is part of efforts to make the fleet of winter response vehicles “more environmentally friendly”.

New weather stations and sensors on the M8 – the main road linking Edinburgh and Glasgow – are also to be trialled, as is a new form of road treatment using reduced amounts of salt, which will be initially used on the A835.

Meanwhile, transport chiefs said they would continue to lease specialist vehicles to deal with the most extreme winter conditions.

After heavy snowfall in previous years resulted in major disruption to traffic, new route-specific snow plans have been drawn up for key roads across the country including the M8, M74, M77 and M80.

Transport chiefs have almost 550,000 tonnes of salt in storage, more than was used in the whole of last winter.

Mr Matheson said: “Our teams have worked hard throughout the year to ensure we are ready when difficult winter conditions set in. We can’t prevent the weather but we can make sure we’re as well-prepared as possible.

“While last winter was relatively benign, particularly in comparison to the year before, we have still learned lessons from that period.

“Improvements have been put in place to ensure we are as well-prepared 
as we can be, and we are trialling some innovative new technology to see if 
we can make our fleet more environmentally friendly.”

Mr Matheson said Transport Scotland officials will work together with Police Scotland and others to “ensure we have a joined-up approach to keep Scotland moving this winter”.

He added: “As always, the Traffic Scotland mobile site – – is an excellent source of up-to-date information on the trunk road network, the @trafficscotland Twitter page is regularly updated, and the ever-popular gritter tracker is back again this year.”

Chief Inspector Darren Faulds urged motorists to ensure their vehicles are equipped for wintry weather.

He said: “Checking your vehicle regularly to ensure that your lights are in good working order and that your tyres have sufficient tread are just some of the steps you can take.

“It is also important to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts and relevant social media channels so that you can plan ahead and consider whether you really need to travel or can delay your journey.”

Met Office director Andy Kirkman said: “Met Office forecasters and advisers work closely with authorities in Scotland helping them plan ahead and make decisions that will keep the public safe and businesses operating, whatever the weather. This work also supports emergency responders in their vital work.

“Daily weather forecasts for Scotland are broadcast on our YouTube channel. 

“You can get the most accurate and up-to-date forecast for your area using our forecast pages and we issue weather warnings up to seven days in advance, explaining what the weather has in store and the impacts that weather may bring.”

It is the latest move to make public vehicles more environmentally-friendly.
Glasgow City Council recently announced  that its entire fleet of 2,000 vehicles will be carbon free by the end of 2029.

It will be buying electric cars and, more controversially, hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles for its heavy fleet. Its ambition is part of a wider bid to become Britain’s first zero net carbon city.

Glasgow has secured £805,000 from Transport Scotland to convert 23 winter gritters to dual fuel hydrogen.

Glasgow hopes that it can create a market for hydrogen fuel that will help other local authorities and commercial firms switch. And it recognises it will not make progress if it cannot find a solution for heavy transport.

Supporters of hydrogen technology stress that it will massively reduce emissions compared with the current solution for powering big trucks: diesel.

Even dual-fuel vehicles are understood to offer a 40% cut.

But hydrogen remains controversial among environmentalists, some of whom see it as a “gateway drug” fuel for big hydrocarbon firms.