QUARRY owners and suppliers around the country say thousands of tonnes of gritting sand is available to local authorities to help cope with the big freeze.
Unlike salt, sand cannot melt ice on the roads, but it does provide grip for vehicles. The downside is that it is usually only effective for around half an hour before it is lifted by traffic. However, it is considered particularly useful in gritting footpaths and, at around €12 a tonne is cost-effective.
Yesterday, Dublin City Council reported its rocksalt supplies were running critically low. Yet, less than 20 miles away, a sand supplier in Blessington, Co Wicklow, said he had 11,000 tonnes of gritting sand and a fleet of 18 trucks at the ready to deliver it if called upon.
Tim Murphy, founder of Bryko, said he had already come to the rescue of people in Kildare town providing sandbags during the floods before Christmas and was now ready to do the same with gritting.
However, he said that local authorities wanted rocksalt, not gritting sand, for the roads despite its proven benefits.
Mr Murphy said that by yesterday afternoon, his drivers had already delivered 850 tonnes of gritting sand for use at bus depot yards around the country.
Thomas Lynch, of Liam Lynch Quarries in Adare, Co Limerick, said he had been supplying limestone grit to the local city and county councils.
"It's a 4mm grit and if spread on an icy road will give traction and grip. It's not the ideal answer, but when you don't have salt it's an alternative."
Meanwhile householders have resorted to gritting footpaths and roads themselves as local authorities concentrate their dwindling resources on main roads.