Salt stockpiled ready for winter roads

Snow ploughs clear deep snow on a main road in Scotland.
Image caption Freezing weather conditions and snow created chaos around the UK in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Local authorities across the UK say they have stockpiled more road salt than was used throughout last winter.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says town halls in England and Wales have about 1.4m tonnes to hand and are "well prepared to keep traffic moving" in the event of heavy snow.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) says it has 90% of last year's usage, with more on order.

In Northern Ireland, the authorities have "increased stocks significantly".

The preparations come in the wake of recent severe winters that have caused widespread chaos. Last year many parts of the UK were hit by significant snowfall before the end of November, with more following after Christmas.

The chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, Councillor Peter Box, said: "Councils have got more salt this year along with better plans to use it and new technology to make it go further.

"We're well prepared to keep roads safe and traffic moving, whatever the weather throws at us."

According to the LGA, 51% of councils in England and Wales have more salt for the start of this winter than they had for the start of winter 2010/11, with 48% aiming to have the same amount.

On average, each council has 4,900 tonnes of salt in stock - about 1,500 tonnes more than this time last year.

"Wintry conditions"

In Scotland, Cosla says its members are aiming to have six-and-a-half weeks worth of salt stockpiled. They have already spread about 12,000 tonnes on the roads and there are 490,000 tonnes in depots, another 65,000 tonnes is still on order.

But Cosla President Cllr Pat Watters urged the public to do its bit to get ready for winter.

Image caption Many parts of the UK had already seen the first significant snowfall of winter by this time last year

"The last few winters have delivered some of the most severe weather to affect Scottish communities in nearly a century," he said.

"Given the experiences of recent winters, I would encourage all of Scotland to continue to support and, if not already, to get involved in community initiatives to prepare for winter."

The DRD Roads Service in Northern Ireland says it began planning for this winter in April.

A spokesman said: "Roads Service normally holds sufficient stocks of salt to provide the winter service programme for a full season without the need to restock.

"However, following last year's severe weather, it has reviewed these levels and increased stocks significantly to be best placed to deal with any potential prolonged wintry weather.

"It also has arrangements in place to supplement stocks of salt during the winter period, if necessary."

Nearly a third of English and Welsh councils have invested in new gritters, according to the LGA, and 99% say they will be updating their websites regularly on the state of gritting.

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