Council’s salt barn helps drivers, taxpayers and the environment

26 March 2012

Structure specialist De Boer has built upon its reputation in the commercial sector by creating a huge salt storage facility for Derby City Council – with broad benefits for motorists, taxpayers and the environment.

Semi-permanent solution
The company’s semi-permanent salt barn enables the authority to store its road-gritting salt securely under cover, immediately doubling its storage capacity and improving its ability to keep drivers moving in bad winter weather.

Environmental advantages
But as well as allowing the council to respond more effectively to icy conditions, the facility – created at an existing depot at Stores Road in Derby city centre – offers considerable environmental advantages.

Valuable supplies
It means valuable gritting supplies are no longer open to erosion by wind and rain, which traditionally makes salt less effective or means that large quantities are washed away prior to use.

Translucent roof sails
De Boer has even fitted the salt barn with an eco-friendly and cost-effective rainwater harvesting system, complete with underground UV filtration. The reclaimed water is being used to clean vehicles in the depot. In addition, the use of translucent roof sails – coupled with high-spec LED lighting – means the facility is bathed in light more cheaply, offering long-term savings from day-to-day running costs.

Cost benefits
Richard Kniveton, Derby City Council’s Fleet and Depot Manager, said: “Previously our salt was open to seepage, rain and wind, so there are clear environmental and cost benefits from having a salt barn. We also now have a big enough facility to load up months in advance when prices are lower rather than having to buy salt at the winter peak.”

More effective
He added: “Dry salt is far more effective. It spreads evenly, travels through the gritting vehicle better and generally reacts quicker than externally stored, wet salt. Laboratory results have shown that salt stored outside will lose around 20% of its salinity each year from the weather and will be less effective.”

All Weather Hall
The authority’s salt store has been created inside one of De Boer’s highly versatile All Weather Hall structures, which were originally designed specifically to withstand severe Scandinavian winters. Measuring 20 metres by 35 metres, and standing 12.5 metres high at its apex, Derby City Council’s mighty barn offers storage space for up to 5,000 tonnes of gritting salt – double the depot’s previous capacity.

Vehicle door
The structure was erected with an eight-metre leg height and with a translucent PVC skin offering natural ventilation that allows economies in long-term running costs. De Boer also handled all power and lighting requirements internally as well as external floodlighting. The structure features a 10.5-metre-high vehicle door, to allow access for tipper trucks, and a separate personnel door.

Single-pour base
As part of its service to the city council, De Boer handled all groundworks – including the creation of a “single-pour” concrete base measuring 400mm in depth.

Liaising with sub-contractors
The entire project was tackled as the busy Stores Road depot operated normally and involved De Boer liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and handling all sub-contractors.

Speed of build
Richard Kniveton added: “The contract was open to companies across Europe but in terms of quality and price De Boer came out on top. The best thing about De Boer handling this project was the speed. De Boer completed the entire project in just 10 or 11 weeks.”

Increased storage capacity
He also anticipates better use of available space. “Because we have a small depot, storage space is limited,” he explained. “It has always been impossible for us to stock enough salt to last us through the entire winter period. Now we can purchase the complete amount for delivery in summer, and store much more.”

Additional work
Derby Council was so delighted by De Boer’s results that it subsequently commissioned the company to carry out extra works – to provide specialist, high-grade tarmac, as well as fencing, on land outside the salt barn.

Cost and speed benefits
Jonathan Keyes, De Boer’s Sales Manager – Commercial, said: “Despite having a life span in excess of 25 years, All Weather Halls are officially semi-permanent, which means they can be erected more quickly and cheaply than permanent buildings. They have also frequently been extended or relocated, enhancing their flexibility for users.”

He added: “As well as protecting vital salt stocks from winter weather – and helping to keep Britain’s motorists on the move – De Boer’s All Weather Halls have been found to offer councils potentially huge financial benefits. A succession of councils have calculated that the salt barns will quickly be self-funding, with individual authorities predicting long-term savings of up to £1.6 million.”

Local authority contracts
The assignment in Derby marks the latest in a long line of salt barns that De Boer has provided to local authorities. Organisations that have worked with De Boer include councils in Wigan, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Trafford and Blaenau Gwent.

Efficient gritting products
As well as protecting supplies from wind and rain, keeping salt under cover offers councils financial benefits by allowing more efficient gritting products to be used. Some coated salt that is unsuitable for outside storage can reduce the spread on roads by as much as 40%.

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