Road grit salt shortage: Up grit creek
“Not just a short, sharp shock”. By the time this blog is published we’ll know if BBC weather forecasts are correct and we are in the middle of one of the earliest and most significant snowfalls for 17 years.
If so then the country’s motorists and the road transport industry will once again be heavily reliant on salt and its availability to help keep us all moving.
The Highways Agency says it has learned lessons from the previous two winters and has “strengthened its capability to face extended spells of severe weather.”
It claims to have established a “strategic salt stock” for when plan A disappears into a mammoth snow drift and the country takes on the wintery attributes of Lapland in a particularly harsh Finnish December.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond even sat on Adrian Chiles’ sofa on Daybreak to calmly announce that if local councils are suddenly caught saltless “we can top them up”.
But confidence in the country having more salt than you’d normally find stacked up on your grandparents’ dinner plates isn’t shared by everyone and particularly not with the councils.
“Local authorities remain concerned that even at this late stage they are still waiting for suppliers to deliver thousands of tonnes of grit,” says the Local Government Association (LGA).
This is despite them stockpiling significantly more salt than in previous years and almost half of all authorities buying new gritters.
Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Economy and Transport Board at the LGA, says: “There will be no room for complacency in the weeks ahead. The fact that many councils are still waiting for salt to be delivered at this late stage is undoubtedly going to make a challenging time of year even more difficult.”
Surely, then, the LGA has been assured by Hammond’s comments to Chiles and Bleakley that the Department for Transport is on hand to bravely dig us all out of the snow should the country succumb to a mini ice age?
“We’re still in discussion with DfT about co-operation between the government and councils so will comment on that in due course, when we have a bit more detail,” is the less than confident response.
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