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Government must import 250,000t of salt, says review

An independent review of how transport systems coped with the last two winters has today recommended that central government imports 250,000t of road salt to enable local authorities to deal with a winter as extreme as that of last year. 

The Review, commissioned by transport ministers and chaired by transport expert David Quarmby also suggests in its Interim Report that England could be up to 500,000t or more short of salt were next winter to have the same weather pattern as the last.

It therefore recommends that the Highways Agency should import, then store and manage 250,000t of salt. This would be available to local highway authorities, at a premium price, both to reflect the costs of importing and storing it and to provide an incentive to authorities to build up their own stocks.   

“Last year, we just managed to keep traffic moving on the nation’s roads due to the concerted effort of local authorities, national Government and the road salt suppliers. But we came perilously close to running out of salt and many people found the winter months very difficult,” said Quarmby.

“Last year, we just managed to keep traffic moving on the nation’s roads due to the concerted effort of local authorities, national Government and the road salt suppliers. But we came perilously close to running out of salt and many people found the winter months very difficult.”

In addition, the report urges all local authorities review and update their winter plans and warns that properly coordinated research is needed to update various technical standards, so that local authorities have authoritative guidance for improving salt use.

The review’s Final Report in the autumn will deal with a longer term strategy for road salt, and report on the rail and aviation sectors.

Readers' comments (1)

  • How much rock salt produced in the UK is exported to chemical companies across the world? How much could UK production be increased? How much salt is wasted by local councils by storing it outdoors? Road Authorities must consider all options. Use the resources available from farmers. They can store salt undercover ,clear snow and spread salt just when they require the work. Why not fill salt bins in summer and encourage us all to store some to keep our local roads clear. All this would cost money but how much did last winters fiasco cost the UK? Import salt? We will be importing coal next.

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