Monday, 8 November 2010

Safer Winter Roads Courtesy of Oz

click to enlarge

Britain is surrounded by seas full of salt.  We even have mines which produce the stuff, with our biggest mine, operated by Salt Union in Cheshire capable of producing 30,000 tonnes a week.

Yet, when it comes to salting the UK's roads this winter to keep us all moving, there's only one solution available to the UK's transport chiefs.  Ship it in from Australia.  We are importing 120,000 tonnes of salt from 12,000 miles away in an effort to avoid a repeat of last year's fiasco when depots ran out of supplies during the long winter.

The cost of the Australian salt is said to be around £60 a tonne to buy, ship and store - double the price of domestic salt from mines in Cheshire, Cleveland and Northern Ireland and about the same price per tonne as coal.  The salt, after its seven week journey on the high seas, will be split between Redcar, Teesside and Avonmouth, Bristol.

The shipments will help create Britain's first national stockpile of gritting salt, a 250,000 tonne reserve - costing £15.5 million - designed to bail out local authorities which find themselves short of salt should the country be gripped by another hard winter.  In 2002 total world production of sodium chloride was estimated at 210 million tonnes, the top five producers being the US (40.3 million tonnes), China (32.9), Germany (17.7), India (14.5) and Canada (12.3).

I never thought I'd see the day when rock salt cost the same as coal.  Did you?



Disenfranchised of Buckingham said...

And why was there a shortage last winter?

A dereliction of duty by local authorities who would rather invest in Iceland than in ice prevention. And I bet not one person was fired for last year's fiasco.

Woodsy42 said...

Last weekend, in preparation for our globally warmed winter, I went to buy some road salt stuff for our drive (it's quite steep).
It was over £7 a bag in Wickes, which makes it about the same price as cement.

Edward Spalton said...

Reminds me of the shortages in the Seventies. One member of our family uses hardly any sugar but laid in an extra stock "just in case". Enough people did that to make the shortage a reality.

I said, in jest, "They'll have a salt shortage next!", knowing there were millions of tons under Cheshire. AND THERE WAS.

People followed the same track as with sugar. It wasn't that salt was short but they ran out of retail packaging.

I suggested forming a company called "Rent-a-Dearth". For a fee, our operatives would go to selected supermarkets and clear the shelves of some slow moving item, loudly telling people there was a shortage.

I am sure the concept was right and it would have worked a treat in the atmosphere of the times - but I stuck to animal feed milling.

subrosa said...

Not only was no one sacked Disenfranchised, those responsible will possibly have been promoted.

subrosa said...

Woodsy, I was told that by my plumber last week. He'd noticed a couple of bags in the garage from last year and said his son had gone to buy some last week. Profiteering? You bet. And at that price many of the elderly won't be able to afford to salt their paths.

subrosa said...

You see Edward, you could have been a billionaire by now with the payments from supermarkets who would have called for your services. :)

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I'm not sure whether this was ever fact or fable but at one time if you broke your neck on an untreated path or driveway out with the responsibility of public bodies, it was regarded as an Act of God.

Now it seems to be an act of the capitalist markets. Or has God started a hedge fund?

subrosa said...

I'm not sure if it was an Act of God RA but my father used to call it "your own stupidity for acting daft or not having the correct footwear'.

If God is anything like the hedge fund chap on Dimbleby's programme last week, then possibly.

Joe Public said...

And for the Bon Viveurs who like to sprinkle nothing but the best on their private driveway - theres:-

Joe Public said...

Hold on a minute, wasn't Global Warming supposed to eradicate our winters?

I thought Prof Jones at CRU / UEA had published that definitive graph showing temperatures were rising, rising, rising.

Derek said...

The stories of being liable if one clears one's own path are legally a grey area. It would be down to the Court to decide liability. To state that one is liable if cleared, and not if you don't is myth. I researched that a short while back, don't have the link handy just now.

What one must not do is clear a public ath such as is used by passers by beyond your property. For that, public liability insurance would be needed, as well as permission from the Council to do so.

Subrosa, can you really buy coal for £7 a hundredweight? If so, I want some! Even soft coal (the cheapest and not for use in smokless zones) is £15.50 for 50kg (1cwt near as dammit).
25kg bags of smokeless are around the £9-10 a bag mark (S.E. England).

subrosa said...

Joe, I have to confess I'm a Bon Viveur because I keep that salt in my salt pig. I'm one of those who appreciates good salt in the same way as many appreciate chocolate.

subrosa said...

Ah Joe, finally you've cottoned onto my irony. I didn't want to blatantly express that in the post.

subrosa said...

Derek, back when I was a child, (yes I know it's a long time ago), everyone cleared the pavement outside their homes and there was never a problem.

I'm interested to hear your research. I've cleared the pavement at my properties for many years without problem, until a few years ago I was told to leave them alone, for the reason you state.

Yes I can. I have an opencast coalmine not far from here and they can provide me with a bag of coal for a coal fire for £7.35. They used to supply me but I changed to gas.

But then Derek I don't live in the SE of England. Maybe that's the difference. :)

Apogee said...

Could it be that the average UK driver very rarely sees snow or ice and it is a complete shock when they stumble, half asleep out of their houses to be confronted with a couple of inches of snow and some ice. They don't know to drive in the conditions,so instead of training drivers, we pay £15million for salt.And they still hit things,and each other !

Derek said...

We used to clear the pavement outside our house in North London as a child, though the number of times we had that much snow was fairly rare. Never a problem. Then of course the insurance companies began their 'insure for all circumstances' policies, and the litigation society went into overdrive.

The 'grey' area I mentioned can be viewed here:

Google for 'Clearing snow from paths' and you will get pages of stuff.

Best coal prices I can get, are off the coal boats on the canal. Still about £8 a half cwt. Smokeless. Rosa, is that "bag" of yours 25kg, or near a full hundredweight at 50kg? Because if you are paying £7.35 for a hundredweight, that's £147 a ton. If a half (25kg) £294. A bit further away from Aussie salt at £60 a tonne.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Government Statement.

This import was of course organised by the previous administration; and to cancel it now would incur such swinging penalties it's cheaper to accept delivery and try to incorporate it within the strategies of the new, coalesced, administration.

The original intention was to employ all the unemployed who have the audacity to claim benefits to collect and ignite braziers throughout their communities - giving priority of course to the homes and routes utilised by those involved business and administration - in the hope that these millions of heat sources will prevent the ice forming or snow settling; with the added bonus of the increase in ambient temperature giving impetus to the revenue stream earned from 'global warming.'

Your new coalesced administration will of course make the best use of this tragically uninspired import and add it as a peripheral duty to the Corps of Community Weather Beaters, thus minimising any additional costs while maintaining the country's ability to function normally.

Invitations to administer these Community Weather Beaters Corps will be issued shortly to businesses or corporations with the necessary capability and experience.

Bids should be made in sealed and anonymous brown envelopes to The R. Hon. N Clegg, who may, or may not, have the final say on which bids are accepted.

In conjunction with this, will be a comprehensive media campaign to emphasise the association between people and braziers in such large quantities is not the result of a failed state but the emergence of a renewed commitment by the people to underpin and share in the country's future prosperity and its democratic principles.

Together we can win.

N.B. FoI request as to who the "WE" are will be refused.

subrosa said...

Apogee, I'm not that great these days at driving in snow or ice. Anytime I have in the past it's been with the right equipment of snow tyres and chains but then that was in countries where it is like that for a few months.

subrosa said...

The coal referred to in the article isn't domestic coal Derek, it will be commercial.

I'll check out with the coalman next month the weight of the bags. I don't use coal. What he delivers is for a neighbour's holiday flat.

subrosa said...

Together we can win indeed RA. Thank you for that comment. Took some reading. ;)

Apogee said...

Hi SR, yes ,that was the point I was trying to make, the right equipment and driving in the conditions for long enough to get experience.
One may never be an expert, but at least you learn what actions are suicidal.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I should have refined it Rosa, especially the 'officialese'.

But hey I've got a life to live and that allows little time for the vanities of vacuous politics or the mordant duplicitous bureaucrats who administer and guide them.

In truth I despair at the level of incompetence and the lack of integrity these cabals are forcing on the ordinary people of this malignant Union which blights the quality and enjoyment of more lives than will ever profit from it.

subrosa said...

No RA, no need for refinement. Like you I've a life to live and I only allow myself half an hour of 'in depth' reading a day - which of course is never adhered to because time flies.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Ah the demands of modern life!

"This morning I reviewed my manuscript. I took a comma out.

In the afternoon I reviewed it again and put it back." - Oscar Wilde.

Such luxury.

subrosa said...

Ah, those were the days RA. I'm sure it still happens in certain circles. :)

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