Country prepared for severe winter if it comes, Government says

Stocks of salt have reached 210,000 tonnes in preparation for cold snaps

A winter scene  in Co Kildare three years ago. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said yesterday lessons had been learned from the cold snaps in 2009 and 2010.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

A winter scene in Co Kildare three years ago. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said yesterday lessons had been learned from the cold snaps in 2009 and 2010. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Mon, Nov 11, 2013, 19:01

In case of serious snow problems in the months ahead there will be 210,000 tonnes of salt in storage for treating roads by the middle of December the Government has said.

That is 61 per cent more than the 130,000 tonnes used in the cold winter of 2009/2010 which featured two protracted cold snaps.

Separately, the new motorway maintenance contractors, engaged by the National Roads Authority (NRA), are also required to have their supply of salt for winter maintenance.

Speaking at the launch of the Winter-Ready Information Campaign, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said lessons had been learned from the cold snaps in 2009 and 2010 and the country was now much better prepared for a deep freeze.

The first Be Winter-Ready campaign was launched in 2011 with the purpose ofensuring better preparation for adverse weather.

Mr Shatter said the recent success of the civil defence and defence forces in dealing with the flooding in Skibbereen showed what could be done when state agencies were mobilised to deal with emergencies.

Mr Shatter and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan along with representatives of bodies such as the National Roads Authority, Met Éireann and Bus Éireann attended a briefing today on the Winter-Ready Campaign.

Met Éireann head of forecasting Ger Fleming said there was no way of forecasting seasonal weather and there was too much variability in the Irish weather to predict a cold winter.

“All we can say at the moment is that we have no reason to believe that it will be particularly severe.”