Saltwater plants to grow on roads

Hard shoulders on motorways treated with salt during the cold snap could soon feature saltwater plants of the type that usually thrive on beaches, according to wildlife experts.

The vegetation, known as halophyte, is not expected to badly effect the local wildlife, as it appears where grit and salt have soaked into the roadsides.

Despite the lengthiest cold spell in decades, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), based at Slimbridge, the Environment Agency and British Waterways all insisted that not enough salt had been used on the roads to cause a problem.

Halophyte could begin to appear on the roads within the next few weeks, according to an Environment Agency spokeswoman. However, she added that the build up of salt is not expected to cause long-term damage.

"De-icing salt enters rivers and waterways during a thaw, and is diluted very quickly," she said. "Environment Agency studies have shown that using salt to de-ice roads in winter does not impact local wildlife or cause any long-term damage to water quality.

"The Environment Agency is working closely with the Highways Agency to reduce the impact of road run-off across the UK and will continue to closely monitor water quality levels."

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