Roads Service grit supply - '45% already used'

Image caption,
Gritters worked through the night to treat roads during the recent cold spell

The regional development minister has revealed that Roads Service has used about 45% of its stockpile of salt for this winter.

Responding to an Assembly question, Conor Murphy said that "salt barns" had been filled to their capacity of about 65,000 tonnes of salt.

He added that 29,000 of that had already been used this winter.

He stressed that 65,000 tonnes was "more than enough" for a typical winter but more could be procured if needed.

"Obviously the length of time that these reserves will last is dependent on the severity of the weather during the remainder of the winter period," Mr Murphy said.

"However, Roads Service has advised that arrangements are in place to replenish the depleted salt stocks, if necessary."

The recent cold spell was one of the most severe ever seen in Northern Ireland in December, causing significant disruption, including the closure of more than 700 schools.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who posed the question, said he was concerned about whether enough salt would be available if similar cold spells arose in the coming weeks.

He said that a recent report in the local press had highlighted how Magherafelt District Council had approached the salt mine at Kilroot and was told it could not buy any more because Roads Service had to take priority.

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