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Council given extra funds for big freeze

Council given extra funds for big freeze

Trevor Quinn

CO MAYO will be in a better position to deal with a prolonged spell of arctic weather this year after the county’s Winter Maintenance Grant was increased by €82,123.
The announcement came a few days after Mayo County Council Engineer Joe Beirne told The Mayo News that the Council would ‘struggle’ to cope with a winter as severe as last year’s.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar announced on Friday last, September 9, that local authorities will share an extra €1.25 million in funding this year to prepare for extreme weather conditions. The funding for Mayo has subsequently been increased by €82,123 to €739,104. The total being allocated nationally now comes to €11.25 million
This funding will be used to keep local roads open if Ireland faces another severe winter. It will cover the cost of purchasing, transporting, storing and spreading salt, as well as other works such as keeping footpaths clear. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has already purchased 60,000 tonnes of salt nationwide to prepare for winter, and has around three years’ worth of supplies.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport and Mayo TD Michael Ring said, “we must do everything we can to prepare Ireland for extreme weather conditions. Every severe winter in recent years has seen salt stocks running perilously low. Hopefully Mayo will now have access to sufficient supplies of salt this year, and sufficient resources to spread it as a result of this extra funding.”
He added: “We can’t predict the weather, and we have no way of knowing whether another severe winter is on the way. But we must do our very best to be prepared.”
Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin also welcomed the additional funding. Deputy Mulherin said she was hopeful that this funding would ensure that some of the  chaotic scenes seen last winter would be avoided. “This is a clear example of the Minister planning ahead, in a bid to avoid some of the delay and disruption experienced during the snow and ice earlier this year and late last year. Many local authorities clearly struggled to keep main routes clear and gritted, much to the disgruntlement and disappointment of local people.”