How salt found beneath the North York Moors will keep Yorkshire moving this winter

It was deposited 225m years ago as ancient oceans drained away, but now the salt which lies beneath the North York Moors plays a vital part in keeping the country moving during the  winter months.

Boulby Mine, near Staithes, is best known for producing potash, but the site also supplies around half the de-icing rock salt used on Britain’s roads when temperatures plummet.

Last year, North Yorkshire County Council used about 50,000 tonnes of salt from Boulby and this month NY Highways, which was formed this year to carry out road maintenance, is gearing up for its first winter in operation.

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The fleet, on call 24 hours a day, is complemented by more than 100 farm contractors, who can be called in to help to clear roads.

Salt from underneath the North York Moors is used in gritters across North Yorkshire

There are also about 8,000 grit heaps and bins in the county.

NY Highways operations manager Mike Francis said: “We have a strong team of drivers and a young fleet of 80 vehicles, including 18 new replacement gritters added ahead of this winter.

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“This year’s gritting operation has already begun, of course, and we’re well prepared for whatever the winter throws at us over Christmas, New Year and beyond.

“To ensure we have ample salt stocks, we do a weekly stocktake in our barns, then place orders with ICL at Boulby to replenish the stock as required.”

Run by ICL, Boulby has been mining rock salt for more than 40 years and has access to multi-million tonnes of mineral deposits. Generally between 350,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes are mined each year, most being used for winter road maintenance.

ICL’s salt sales manager, Mark Thompson, said: “Our key objective is to secure the safety and mobility of the public through the timely provision of salt. Our ability to perform is greatly influenced by the strength of the relationship we have with colleagues, customers and the wider supply chain.”