No plans for sand

PUBLISHED: 12:30 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:34 25 May 2010

IF SALT supplies run out there are no plans to use sand from Weston beach.

IF SALT supplies run out there are no plans to use sand from Weston beach.

After what pundits are calling 'the big freeze' hit the region last week, fears of dwindling salt supplies sparked rumours that the area could fall short.

North Somerset and Somerset County Council have this week confirmed that they both had a bank of salt before heavy snowfall hit the area.

Both also deny any plans to use sand as a substitute.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "We are reluctant to say just how much we have but we have a good amount.

"Coupled with a delivery last week and one on Monday, we are not worried about running out.

"I have not heard of any plans to use sand instead of salt either."

All major routes in the region have been treated and A roads and most B roads are currently passable.

The Government announced last week that it will take control of national salt supplies and all future deliveries through a 'salt cell'.

This means all salt available will be distributed by the Government on a priority basis.

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "We are doing everything we can to save salt stocks to see the county out of the cold snap, despite 16 nights of continuous gritting.

"Now to conserve stocks the council will be concentrating on major roads which make up 21 per cent of the network."

Before the salt cell was introduced Somerset County Council managed to ease the strain placed on salting supplies as they purchased 2,600 tonnes of before Christmas.

As part of the salt cell, each council enters the amount of salt they use into a data base which links up to a national framework.

When supplies decrease, this is automatically picked up and new supplies are sent out.

The UK's biggest rock salt mine, operated by Salt Union, has said it is working 24-hours a day to try to meet demand. It said the challenge was to ensure priority is given to councils that are running out of salt.

With other councils' salt supplies at crisis levels there are concerns that supplies destined for North Somerset and Somerset may be diverted to other councils.

With no let up in the cold conditions over the last week, both councils are reviewing operations on a daily basis and taking action to ensure salt supplies will last throughout this period.

The salt cell was set up by the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency and the Local Government Association.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: "At the moment we are not considering using sand to grit the roads as supplies are not low.

"I can't imagine that the sand from Weston would be that good anyway.

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