Belfast Telegraph

Double the road salt stockpiled

Nearly twice as much salt has been stockpiled to keep roads clear this winter than was stored last year, the Assembly has been told.

As the first snowfall landed, following a largely mild period of weather, Roads Minister Danny Kennedy said 110,000 tons of salt was available.

He said 65,000 tons was available last year when sustained below-zero conditions caused havoc.

But while the minister said the Roads Service is more than ready for what is termed a "normal winter", he warned that he could not predict what the elements may throw at motorists.

There was major controversy last winter when record low temperatures closed roads, left footpaths layered in ice and caused huge numbers of burst pipes.

The minister was asked by the SDLP's South Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt if he was ready for the onset of cold weather this year, and if greater co-operation had been secured between his department and local councils.

The minister told the Assembly: "Can I say that I am working very hard indeed, as indeed are my officials and all staff in the department, to try and ensure that we make provision for the winter conditions that have now embarked upon us.

"I can confirm to the member that some 110,000 tons of salt has been purchased for distribution along the road network.

"That is effectively twice the amount of what normally would be expected to be used in what's termed a 'normal winter' - whatever that is - and certainly last year, we had very abnormal conditions.

"I can also say that there has been, I believe, considerable progress in relation to getting some agreement at section office level with local councils."

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