Mayo County Council is stockpiling salt and is well prepared should there be another ‘big freeze’, similar to the winters of 2009 and 2010.
Peter McLoughlin, executive engineer with the authority, advised a meeting of the Claremorris Municipal District this week that they expect to have 5,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled in the next few days.
Some international forecasters have predicted Ireland is set for its coldest winter in years with an easterly wind, dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’, to send the mercury plummeting.
Cllr John Cribben said a lot was learned in 2009 when prolonged sub- zero temperatures “caught everyone on the hop” and salt stocks ran low. The county is now much better prepared for such an eventuality, he added.
Mr McLoughlin outlined Mayo’s Winter Service Plan, which is expected to cost in the region of €1 million and involve more than 60 local authority employees.
He said Mayo County Council used 6,400 tonnes of salt in 2013 over a relatively mild season. However, in severe weather, such as that of 2009 and 2010, that could rise to more than 8,000 tonnes.
The Winter Service Plan firstly prioritises national and secondary routes, followed by strategically important regional roads, then footpaths, cycle ways, and urban routes.
Elected members of the district requested that grit stocks be dropped at advertised locations for local communities to use in the event of a serious cold snap, as was the case in previous severe winters.