Road gritting hit by salt shortages as snow forecast


LOCAL AUTHORITIES have been told they must prudently manage their salt supplies over the coming days as further bad weather and snow is set to hit the country at the weekend.

The latest cold snap will start in the west and northwest today, before becoming more widespread.

Some 26,000 tonnes of salt are due to arrive in Ireland from next week for gritting roads, but it is likely that only national primary roads and those that are important for access to facilities such as hospitals and ports will be prioritised in coming days.

The National Roads Authority said yesterday 75,000 tonnes of salt have already been used this winter compared to the average of 60,000 tonnes.

In recent nights local authorities have cut their nightly use of salt to 1,000 tonnes from 2,500-3,000 tonnes on average during the last spell of severe weather.

At a weather and transport briefing in Dublin yesterday, Michael Egan of the NRA said there were sufficient supplies to ensure main roads continued to be treated but it told councils to be careful in using supplies.

A total of 15,000 tonnes of salt is in storage compared to 5,000 tonnes at this time last year.

Mr Egan said a number of salt shipments were currently at sea. They had been anticipated before this weekend, but bad weather in the Mediterranean resulted in delays to loading ships there.

Joan Blackburn of Met Éireann said bitterly cold weather was forecast from today as strong northerly winds return.

She said different parts of the country were likely to get snow at different times over the next four or five days, but most areas were likely to see some. Snow would mainly hit Ulster, west Connacht and southwest Munster during this afternoon and into tomorrow. There would be between 3cm and 10cm of snow, with more over higher ground.

Local authorities are continuing to restrict water supplies at night, and householders have been urged not to leave taps running.

City engineer Michael Philips of Dublin City Council said consideration was being given to delaying the restriction of water supplies during the night to 10pm rather than the current time of 7pm due to difficulties being experienced by hotels and restaurants.

In Co Donegal, Ballyshannon installed its own salt and grit bunkers around several estates. The borough council imported 13 massive bunkers so residents can clear their own ice and snow. The town is believed to be the first in Ireland to import its own road and pavement clearing material.

Galway County Council said it received 130 tonnes of salt yesterday and had enough to keep the main roads salted over the next few days. It urged householders and businesses to conserve water.

A spokesman said supplies of grit would continue to be delivered to suburbs, and he paid tribute to residents’ association for using this to keep paths open.