Devon salt stocks coping with winter freeze

THIS week's snow storms have added to what has become the busiest winter in a decade for Devon County Council's gritting teams.

THIS week's snow storms have added to what has become the busiest winter in a decade for Devon County Council's gritting teams.

The on-going sub zero temperatures and snowfall has seen the county council use more than 14,000 tonnes on Devon's major routes and other roads into smaller communities, compared with the usual amount of between 10,000 and 12,000 tonnes during an entire average winter.

Since the first treatment on October 27, the 95 call outs so far this winter has cost �750,000. On Monday (2 February) and Tuesday (3 February) alone, 1,500 tonnes of salt was used when all of the council's fleet of 84 gritters were mobilised throughout most of the day, to keep the 2,000 miles of the major pre-salting network and secondary routes into smaller communities as clear as possible, though many still needed to be driven with extreme care.

Devon's salt stocks are still above 50%, said a spokesman, with more than 10,000 tonnes strategically located around the county. They are due to be replenished next week in preparation to see out the winter and any further wintry conditions.

The county council again treated most of the county's major roads on the pre-salting network overnight and 28 gritters were out again this morning on the major routes, particularly on Dartmoor, north of the A30 and East of Exeter.

Devon County Council Leader Brian Greenslade said: "This winter is proving exceptionally demanding. It's the coldest in years and that has thrown up challenges that our staff are working hard to overcome. The sheer volume of salt used to keep Devon's roads passable illustrates how our staff and those at South West Highways have been pulling out all the stops. Their work often goes unrecognised and we thank them all for their sterling efforts so far. Salt stocks were replenished during the cold spell just before Christmas and that has stood us in good stead."

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Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "The weather may be unpredictable but our teams have shown that they are prepared and proactive in carrying out such extensive treatment of the county's roads. Prudent planning and re-ordering means, although we have used more salt in the past three months than the whole of last winter, we still have adequate stocks to deal with forthcoming weather issues."

Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Manager, said: "While the salting network is holding up, we still expect to see difficult conditions on the minor road network. It's worth remembering that drivers must never assume that a road has been salted and should continue to drive with extreme care."

Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country. Around 10,200 tonnes of salt was used on Devon's roads throughout the whole of last winter.