More salt needed for winter: report

A total of 250,000 tonnes of road salt needs to be imported to the UK to avoid a repeat of the shortages seen during the last bout of winter weather, according to a report commissioned by Whitehall.

Local authorities across England may find they are short of half a million tonnes of road salt during winter 2010-11 if they fail to build their stocks and the weather is similar to that of 2009-10, the report claims.

The Government should import the extra supply for the Highways Agency before the next winter arrives, the report said, which is also likely to help reduce the number ofcar insurance claims relating to thebreakdown of vehicles.

However the extra salt will cost councils a lot more than usual because of import and storage costs, according to the report, adding that this may incentivise local authorities to build up an adequate supply of their own.

Councils should be reassessing their stocks and usage of road salt by December this year, as well as reviewing weather forecasts for the season and the availability of supplies.

The report, covering only England, was issued by a panel set up by the previous Government because of the lack of preparation for last winter's severe weather. It also recommended that the Government issues some type of code in order to help members of the public clear ice and snow from their pavements and to help reduce the number of claims for negligence.

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