UK councils have stockpiled almost 1.5 million tonnes of salt ready to spread on icy roads and pathways this winter, according to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) annual weather resilience survey.
95% of the 38 local authorities surveyed were found to have accumulated the same amount of salt as they did last winter – around 1.4 million tonnes – despite the cost of salt increasing by 10% due to inflation. More than half of councils have pledged to share their salt reserves with neighbouring areas this year, too.
The survey reported that, on average, each local area had access to eight gritting lorries, as well as quad bikes, tractors, and snow blowers to prepare for inclement weather. Almost 80% of councils are also utilising GPS systems to spread salt more efficiently this year, and two-thirds have equipped street cleaners with salt to use on pavements.
Cllr David Renard, an LGA transport spokesperson, commented: “As temperatures start to plummet, councils are ready to work around the clock to grit roads and pavements to make sure that people are kept safe and local communities can get out and about.
“Councils have stockpiled millions of tonnes of salt and are using new and innovative technologies where they can to ensure those areas that are most treacherous are kept clear and safe for use.
“During these cold spells, it is the elderly or those who have a respiratory disease who are more at risk of ill health and in need of more support. As some people may choose to limit their heating use due to the impact of rising energy bills, it is all the more important that people check up on those that may need more help. It could help save lives.”
Nonetheless, preparing for the winter has not come without challenges for local authorities. In addition to rising costs, councils face a deficit of HGV drivers this year; 63% reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining drivers.