AQW 51028/11-16

Mr Gordon Dunne
Democratic Unionist Party
North Down

Tabled Date: 17/11/2015
Answered On Date: 02/12/2015
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister for Regional Development for an update on winter gritting services.

My Department’s winter service programme is provided to mitigate against the effects of adverse winter weather, however, it does not eliminate them.
Throughout the winter season, some 300 staff and a fleet of 130 gritters are available every day to salt the road network that serves around 80% of daily traffic flow in Northern Ireland to help drivers and road users cope with wintry conditions.
Salt barns and stockpiles have been filled to maximum capacity with reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt, strategically placed at points across Northern Ireland, taking the overall stock level to over 90,000 tonnes of salt. I have also made provision for further supplies of salt, if required, at the rate of around 15,000 tonnes per month.
During periods of prolonged snow, all gritters will be fitted with snow ploughs and efforts directed to clearing snow from motorways and the trunk roads, before moving to other main roads and the busiest urban link roads. To further improve resilience I have approved the purchase of four more Snow Blowers to supplement the Departments current fleet of eight blowers. Snow clearance contracts are also in place to enable contractors and farmers to help to clear roads of snow.
My Department will continue to provide approximately 4,800 salt bins and 50,000 grit piles, placed at strategic locations, for use on a self help basis by Pedestrians and Motorists alike to help prevent the formation of snow and ice on pavements and untreated roads. These will be continually replenished, as required, throughout the winter period.
In addition, as a further measure relating to footways, I can confirm that at the end of last season arrangements were in place with 25 out of the 26 Councils for the clearance of ice and snow from town and city centre footways during prolonged severe weather. My Department is currently consulting with the new super councils to roll over these agreements for this important service and encouragingly, early indications have been positive.