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Roads: Salt

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has (a) evaluated, (b) commissioned and (c) undertaken on an alternative to sodium chloride for managing the effects of ice on roads. (251023)

Sodium chloride is a cost-effective treatment for the prevention of ice forming and treatment of snow and ice. The Highways Agency has considered other approaches used elsewhere in the world, but there is little evidence to suggest there are cost effective alternatives suitable for the UK that would warrant research.

Alternatives, such as potassium acetate, are used on some major structures to reduce the potential for corrosion. However, such treatments are over 50 times more expensive than sodium chloride and so are not suitable network wide.

Recognising that the use of salt has environmental implications the Highways Agency’s research is focussing on reducing the amount of salt spread. Increasing use is being made of pre-wetted salt, which results in less loss of salt allowing spread rates to be reduced by up to 25 per cent.