A written statement was made to Parliament on 15 December 2009, Official Report, columns 122-24WS outlining the Department for Transport's response to the report of the UK Road Liaison Group on highway authorities' preparedness for extreme weather events. This was also published on the Department for Transport's website at:
[holding answer 7 January 2010]: The information requested is as follows:
(a) Both during February 2009 and immediately following the winter season, a number of discussions were held between the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency to discuss issues arising from the winter and to contribute to the related Transport Select Committee (TSC) hearing and other related events requiring briefing information. Following the TSC hearing, the UK Roads Liaison Group led a review into the severe weather of February 2009, comprising input from the Highways Agency, salt suppliers and the Department for Transport, as well as local authority representation. Discussions between the Department for Transport and Highways Agency were held in both carrying out the review and compiling the subsequent report. Department for Transport Ministers have also had a number of discussions with the Highways Agency to discuss winter resilience, including the distribution of salt.
(b) Department for Transport officials have also had a number of discussions with Salt Union and others on similar issues.
[holding answer 7 January 2010]: During periods of severe weather, requests for additional salt stocks from another highway authority (commonly known as mutual aid) are considered on an individual basis. Consideration is given to the criticality of salt stock levels of both the requesting and potential providing authority together with the current weather being experienced. Where possible the Highways Agency will provide mutual aid assistance to other authorities, where this will not impact on the agency's treatment of its network.
[holding answer 7 January 2010]: Since February 2009, the Highways Agency has purchased a total of 188 salt spreaders, all with snow plough attachments, with a further 90 due to be purchased in the next 12 months. This will complete the winter fleet replacement.
Local roads are the responsibility of local highway authorities. Strategic roads are managed by the Highways Agency.
The UK Road Liaison Group (UKRLG) report contains 19 recommendations. Most of the recommendations are addressed to local highway authorities and salt suppliers. It will be for these organisations to decide how best to adopt the recommendations.
Four recommendations were specifically addressed to this Department and the Highways Agency. My written statement of 15 December 2009, Official Report, columns 122-24WS advised what action had been taken by this Department and the Highways Agency consistent with those recommendations. These recommendations have been adopted.