With the heavy snowfall of winter 2009/10 all but a distant memory now that balmy summer temperatures have arrived the Government’s Interim Winter Resilience Review published today gives much food for thought on how the UK might be better prepared if similar sub-zero temperatures are experienced this winter or in the coming years.
The review, being chaired by the RAC Foundation’s Chairman Dr David Quarmby, has at this interim stage recommended:
- That Government imports quarter of a million tonnes of road salt to help ensure we have enough salt to deal with a winter as bad as last year
- That all local authorities review and update their winter plans, including consulting fully on the networks to be treated, and considering whether less salt can be used while maintaining effective coverage
- That Government helps the public to help themselves by issuing a short, simple code on clearing snow and ice from pavements, to reassure and encourage them, and help guard against negligence claims.
- That properly coordinated research is needed to update various technical standards, so that local authorities have authoritative guidance for improving salt utilisation.
The Review’s interim report makes 17 recommendations covering highway authorities’ winter maintenance, the road salt supply chain, public expectations, weather forecasting and self-help by the public. It focuses particularly on the need to keep our road network moving in the event of snow and ice next winter.
Speaking about the Review, David Quarmby said:
“Last year, we just managed to keep traffic moving on the nation’s roads due to the concerted effort of local authorities, national Government and the road salt suppliers. But we came perilously close to running out of salt and many people found the winter months very difficult.
“We can’t know when such a severe winter will hit us again, but we can take steps as a nation, to ensure that when it does, we will cope better. This report highlights the short-term need for national Government and local councils to ensure that they have plans in place, and enough road salt, to deal with the possibility of another severe winter in 2010/11′.
The interim report and it’s final report due in the Autumn will provide a good basis for local government decisions if the country experiences similar sub-zero temperatures this coming winter, which will provide a great deal of comfort for those motorists who experienced the worst of the weather 6-8 months ago.