Highways Agency unveils new 5,500 tonne salt dome

THOUSANDS of tonnes of rock salt set to serve major roads around Stansted Airport over the winter months is on standby at a new facility.

The Highways Agency unveiled its �60,000 ‘salt dome’ at its Birchanger depot off junction 8 of the M11, close to the airport, on Tuesday.

The 5,500-tonne capacity oval-shaped dome – which is made of wood and reinforced concrete to resist corrosion and allows for easy stock rotation – was finished in May, replacing the 2,000-tonne salt barn which previously stood on the site.

Its contents will be used to grit the M11 and A120 when there is heavy snow and ice.

One of 14 depots across East Anglia, the dome can store enough salt for up to 12 days in “worst case scenario” weather, said asset delivery manager Mike Wherett.

“This is a critical depot because it’s on the M11 and we’ve got Stansted Airport, which is a major UK hub, right on our doorstep,” he added.

“It is important that we keep the M11 and the A120 running into and out of the airport.”

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Overall, salt stocks across East Anglia are 25 per cent higher than last year as the region prepares for the harsh winter weather over the coming months.

“Two years ago was particularly bad and really tested resources, but last year we were in a better position. Now we will be in an even stronger position,” explained Mr Wherett.

Other main roads will be gritted by Essex County Council.

• Meanwhile, the Highways Agency has advised motorists to be well prepared when travelling in severe weather conditions.

It suggests carrying a ‘severe weather emergency kit’ which should include: an ice scraper and de-icer, a torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first-aid kit, battery jump leads, a spade if it’s likely to snow, and food and drink.