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Roads: Snow and Ice

Volume 488: debated on Friday 27 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the amount of salt provided by the Highways Agency to Gloucestershire county council during the recent snowfall; and if he will make a statement. (255778)

[holding answer 10 February 2009]: It is for local authorities to determine levels of salt necessary for their winter maintenance programme as set out in the UK Roads Board's (voluntary) code of practice on highways maintenance management, “Well-maintained Highways”. The Highways Agency provided 550 tonnes of road salt to Gloucestershire county council under the mutual aid scheme on 8 February 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what process his Department uses to (a) monitor the level of salt available for road treatment and (b) estimate future road salt requirements. (256619)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: It is for Local Authorities to determine levels of salt necessary for their winter maintenance programme as set out in the UK Roads Board's (voluntary) code of practice on highways maintenance management, “Well-maintained Highways”. For the trunk road network, the Highways Agency has in place long established procedures which require salt stock capability reporting on a daily basis between 1 October and 30 April. Salt stock requirements are ascertained from a combination of longer term weather forecast information and records of salt usage. Salt capability is expressed as the number of treatment days available based on six treatments per day at 20gm/m2—the level of treatment typical for snow conditions. A weekly summary is produced which gives an overview of salt stocks and provides advance warning when salt stocks are approaching a critical level.

As a result of the recent severe weather, central government, the Local Government Association and the Highways Agency have been working together to provide daily advice to suppliers on the most effective distribution of available salt supplies in order to minimise the risk to public safety. This advice is based on daily demand estimates informed by the Met Office's 24 hour forecast and comparisons between existing salt stocks and available supply.