The cold snap means business is booming for British Salt in Middlewich
The continuing freezing conditions are leading to long queues at a salt suppliers in Cheshire.
British Salt Limited in Middlewich is supplying councils from across the UK with low grade salt to spread on roads.
Roads around Middlewich are lined with lorries waiting to load supplies from the plant which is working around the clock to meet demand.
Around 500 tonnes of salt is being moved every hour, and a lorry filled every three minutes.
Councils normally use rock salt for gritting roads but with supplies running low many are turning to low grade salt which is produced by British Salt from brine which is pumped from deep beneath the ground.
The salt is normally used for food production but as the cold snap continues to bite it is being used to help keep the road network clear.
Queues form on the approach to British Salt in Cheshire
"It's an excellent de-icer," explains David Stevens of British Salt.
"It needs to be mixed with gravel or sand to make a proper de-icing product for the highways."
Much of the rock salt for the UK's roads is supplied by Union Salt in nearby Winsford, which is struggling to meet demand.
"The current spell of weather is the most severe and prolonged the UK as a whole has seen for some 20 years," said a Salt Union spokesperson.
"We would obviously like to be able to fulfill every authority's needs in full but the reality of the situation at present is that that is simply not possible.
"Our mine in Cheshire is working 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week but, even at our maximum output of 30,000 tonnes a week, it is not possible to sustain the unprecedented level of repeat orders coming in.
"We are, therefore, working closely with customers and with Government agencies to try to prioritise deliveries according to local needs.
"It isn't easy but we, like the rest of the UK's winter maintenance effort, are doing our very best."
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