Teams preparing Northumberland for winter as cold weather begins to bite

With the nights drawing in and winter looming ever closer, Northumberland County Council is preparing for the onset of cooler temperatures.

Monday, 7th October 2019, 7:00 am
The new salt barn in Blyth.
The new salt barn in Blyth.

Over the past year the council has continued to invest in its winter service operations - building new salt barns and buying five new state-of-the-art gritters as part of its rolling programme of vehicle replacements.

Salt Barns, which can each store 4,000 tonnes of salt‘ to be used to ‘grit’ the county’s roads and paths, have been constructed at the council’s depots in both Allendale and Blyth.

The barns were built to ensure the salt stays dry, as dry storage means better and more effective use of the salt - giving 7-8% savings in spreading wastage alone and ensuring the correct treatment is applied depending on the weather conditions.

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Some of Northumberland County Council's winter services team.

Being under cover also stops the rock salt being washed away through rain. Over the course of a year up to 20% of salt can be lost in this way which as well as being wasteful can also be damaging to the environment.

These two new salt barns add to its dry salt storage facilities at Haltwhistle, Bearl, Morpeth, Alnwick and Berwick, whilst next year further investment will provide new facilities at Bellingham and Otterburn where salt is currently kept uncovered.

To help spread all this grit, five new 18-tonne gritter wagons have joined the council’s 28-strong fleet to replace some of the older models. A sixth machine is due to be delivered later in the year.

These new gritters will be based right across the county in Blyth, Morpeth, Stocksfield (Bearl), Haltwhistle and Rothbury.

Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “We have a professional and very experienced team of staff who will be keeping our road network safe this winter.

“While last winter was relatively mild, we’ve seen how extreme the weather can be in our region and that’s why we’ve invested in the kit and the people to be able to tackle whatever is thrown at them.

“With more than 3,000 miles of roads to look after this can be a round-the-clock job for our highway teams and I’m extremely proud of the dedication our staff have.”