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Report says road salt stocks should double

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Highway authorities should lay in double the present guideline levels of salt to deal with severe winter weather, an inquiry into the response to last winter’s cold spell has found.

The inquiry, chaired by RAC Foundation chairman David Quarmby, said stocks should be sufficient for 48 runs by gritting lorries.

It also recommended councils to experiment with spreading salt more thinly noting, “Experience last winter showed that lower rates of spread did not appear to reduce effectiveness in making roads safe”.

Dr Quarmby said English highway authorities spend around £160m a year on winter resilience and “modest additional expenditure in some areas, clearly targeted, is likely to be highly beneficial to local economies”.

A strategic reserve of 250,000 tonnes of imported salt is expected to be in place by late November.

Dr Quarmby said: “The weather of the last two winters was exceptionally severe, yet in most respects local authorities and the transport industry rose to the massive challenge. 

“The salt supply chain for highway authorities must be made more resilient, with local authorities increasing their precautionary salt stocks and suppliers responding more flexibly to demand.”

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