The UK’s salt producers, through the Salt Association, has provided reassurance that salt production nationally is where it needs to be as we move towards the 2020/21 winter season; and urges highways authorities at national and local levels across the UK to be as prepared as they can be and to guard against any complacency in managing and maintaining their salt stocks.
This is even more important during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Concern is growing about rising numbers of Covid-19 cases nationally and the second wave of the disease causing more local or more widespread restrictions and lockdowns and its potential to cause serious logistical difficulties in salt supply chains. This further emphasises the vital importance of highways and local authorities ensuring their salt stocks are plentiful well in advance of the winter season.
Salt is the essential ingredient of all accepted road de-icing methods, so the value and benefit of UK-produced salt should be seen as key to the industry because, not despite of, how commonplace it is. As applied in dry form, it is tried and tested and supported by decades of successful de-icing results.
As such, salt enables highways authorities to meet their statutory duties by keeping our roads as safe as reasonably practical during snowy and icy weather. Although salt producers may have plentiful stocks this does not alter the fact that the highways authorities have the statutory duties for covering winter maintenance. Salt stock maintenance by highways authorities through mid-season top-ups is essential to avoid some of the difficulties which could, potentially occur due to decreasing capacity in the salt supply chain – for example through an ongoing shortage of suitably-skilled HGV drivers, and a perceived year-on-year decline in the numbers of tipper trucks available to salt hauliers.
The Salt Association urges local authorities not to take unnecessary risks with the supply chain by ignoring the salt stock resilience benchmark of 12 days/48 gritting runs at 20g/m2 recommended in the Quarmby Report. As we mark the tenth anniversary of the Quarmby Report which was published following consecutive extremely cold winters, it is essential that everyone concerned with winter service maintenance remains aware of its contents and recommendations.
Our members also echo Department for Transport’s (DfT) view that:
It is unfair to expect salt producers and hauliers to deliver within 24 hours of an order, particularly when the country is entering a severe snow event.
Once a highways authority has used any stock, it should re-order what was used so as to retain the 12 day benchmark throughout the winter season.
Through being mindful of the challenges of the supply chain, these measures will safeguard authorities against being victim to potential logistical problems in the winter season and will not leave them in the position of having to contact neighbouring authorities or the DfT for help.
The UK’s salt producers look forward to supporting the whole country throughout the coming winter season and beyond.