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Winter salt stockpiles "enough" says transport secretary

By: William Hobson
26 November 2010

The shortages of road salt and grit which exacerbated disruptions to driving work in last winter's severe weather will not be repeated this year, the transport secretary has suggested.

Speaking on ITV's Daybreak programme Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, assured viewers that this year local authorities and the highways agency have stockpiled enough road salt to handle the coming winter.

Last year the logistics sector suffered alongside the rest of the country's motorists as roads throughout the country ground to a halt due to the extreme cold and the widespread snowfall. These conditions were exacerbated due to overly conservative predictions of the winter weather conditions and a subsequent shortfall in salt stockpiles in many areas, meaning that the salting and gritting which many drivers wanted was often delayed until arrangements could be made to share supplies and services with other operators.

This year Mr Hammond says he is "pretty confident we'll be ok", as the UK supply has been bolstered by imports from overseas suppliers and the Department for Transport (DfT) has created a "strategic stockpile" to help council's experiencing salting difficulties.

"If local councils do have problems, we can top them up," he said.

He also acknowledged that there is a "huge issue with the backlog of maintenance on local roads,'' particularly in regards to pothole and weathering damage from the previous winter, but noted that the budget for these projects had not been cut and the £84m assigned by the previous government had been ring-fenced.

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