Councils urged to 'boost road salt'

A Government report has indicated that local authorities should stock up on road salt to ensure they are prepared for severe winter weather and help to reduce winter motoring accidents.

At present, it is recommended that local highway authorities have enough salt for four gritter runs a day for six days, but the winter resilience review final report recommends that councils, where they can, should increase stocks so they can make 48 gritter runs.

Led by RAC Foundation chairman David Quarmby, the review team, which was set up in the aftermath of Britain's worst winter for three decades last year, made 11 recommendations to compliment the 17 made in an interim report in July.

It said that July's recommendation for the Government to import a quarter of a million tonnes of salt as a strategic reserve for next winter had been approved, and shipments had already started to arrive, with the majority of the salt stocks in place next month.

Research carried out by David Quarmby and his team of experts revealed that the economic and social cost of last year's winter weather disruption in England was around £1 billion.

The report, which looked at the way transport systems coped with the last two winters, recommends that local councils should collaborate on stocks where it makes sense to do so, while more economical use be made of salt as instances last winter indicated that lower rates of spread did not appear to reduce road safety.

It also suggests that regular national monitoring would ensure adequate salt stocks are kept in blizzard hot spots, while greater flexibility of output would be required from the two British salt suppliers.

Railway companies, meanwhile, should work closely with local highway authorities to ensure key areas used by travellers are de-iced adequately, while there should be more consistent use of contingency timetables, selective heating of conductor rails south of the Thames and greater use of de-icing trains.

Finally, it recommends that better liaison between airports and local highway authorities in some areas is needed in the gritting of critical roads around airports.

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