Varadkar: We have enough salt for big freeze

The country has more than adequate supplies of salt for gritting icy roads this winter, according to the Government.

Transport Minster Leo Varadkar said about 210,000 tonnes of salt have been stored in depots around the country to ensure that key transport routes and airports are kept open during any bad spell of icy weather over the coming months.

About 60,000 tonnes of salt were bought during the summer at a cost of €3m to replenish stocks used last winter.

Mr Varadkar said the current supplies of salt were substantially more than the amount used during severe weather periods each year since 2009. A total of 130,000 tonnes was used during the particularly bad winter of 2010/2011.

Launching the Be Winter-Ready 2012 campaign in Dublin yesterday, Mr Varadkar said no government was more powerful than Mother Nature, as recent events in the US had shown. However, he said lessons had been learnt from the experience of recent years.

Defence Minister Alan Shatter said the central message of the campaign was to encourage people to be prepared, to stay safe and to know where to find help.

The minister said the severe cold of winter in 2010 and last year’s very mild winter demonstrated the unpredictability of Irish weather. However, he stressed that severe weather events in Ireland were uncommon.

All central and local government agencies had drawn on the experience of recent winters to be better prepared and ready to respond to incidents of severe weather this winter, said Mr Shatter.

Each local authority also has its own winter maintenance plans in place as well as major emergency plans Met Éireann weather forecaster, Gerard Fleming said that, statistically, Ireland could expect to experience a severe winter roughly once every 10 years.

The meteorologist said it was impossible to give any accurate weather forecast beyond a two-three week period. However, Mr Fleming said the next few weeks would be characterised by relatively mild weather after some chilly days over the weekend.

More information including out-of-office contact numbers for local authorities can be found at the dedicated website

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