It is not correct that the strategic salt stock stored at Southampton is ‘in danger of going to waste’. (‘Salt bought at top of market may be wasted, The Times, 6 November edition)
The salt stored at Southampton is covered, remains in useable condition and is not ‘on sale’ in the normal sense. In 2010 the Government asked the Highways Agency to import salt to form part of a strategic national reserve following recommendations from an independent review of winter resilience. This was to ensure the country had sufficient salt available to keep traffic moving during the severe winter of 2010/2011.
This strategic salt stockpile is only used as a last resort and has been retained as a contingency measure in the event of further prolonged severe winter weather. The Government continues to encourage local highway authorities to buy salt for use on their own roads and not to rely on the strategic salt as the first point of call.
No profit is made when allocating strategic salt to councils and the price of the strategic salt covers the cost of the salt itself together with the cost of storing and managing it. It is misleading to compare the price of the strategic stockpile to today’s market price of salt.
No apology is made for taking steps to ensure the country is in the best possible position to deal with severe weather.