As parts of the country are hit by arctic conditions for the fifth day in a row, we are still being treated to rants by politicians about our inability to cope.
Liberal Democrat’s Norman Baker had plenty to say on the subject, “The lack of preparedness is astounding and damaging the economy. I have travelled from Stockholm to the Arctic Circle on a train that arrived 5 minutes early, yet Britain lapses into chaos at the first sign of snow.”
Well, Mr Baker, Stockholm and the Arctic Circle are used to regular, heavy amounts of snow. We aren’t. Weathermen are muttering about this being the whitest winter for 18 years. I’m sure Norman Baker and his colleagues would have plenty to say if we invested in shedloads of grit, salt and a fleet of snowploughs and gritting lorries – to be used once every 2 decades.
For those clamouring for ‘something to be done’ after reports that many county councils are running short of salt, maybe they would like to reflect on some of facts and figures from the northern US, where quantities of the stuff is used to keep roads passable. It is estimated that it costs $2.5 billion a year across the USA in corrosion damage to bridges, roads and vehicles. Salt is also reported as being responsible for killing roadside trees and plants, in addition to polluting streams and rivers.
It would be better if our transport system and schools could keep going in these conditions – of course it would. But demanding improvements by comparing our winter weather preparations with countries that routinely experience significantly colder conditions is the sort of knee-jerk politics we could do without.