Smart Transport

Major Welsh road building projects scrapped

Future of road investment in Wales report cover

The Welsh government has scrapped all major road building projects over environmental concerns.

All future roads must pass strict criteria, including not increasing carbon emissions and the number of cars on the road.

They also must not lead to higher speeds and higher emissions, and they must not negatively impact the environment.

Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters told the Senedd: “When we published the Wales Transport Strategy two years ago, we committed to start upon a llwybr newydd - a new path.

“The publication of this Roads Review, along with the National Transport Delivery Plan, and our new Roads Policy Statement, represents a major step forward on that journey.

“Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads. In fact, we are building new roads as I speak - but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems. 

“We are also investing in real alternatives, including investment in rail, bus, walking and cycling projects.”

He continued: “Even if we’d wanted to keep progressing all the road schemes in the pipeline we just do not have the money to do so.

“Our capital budget will be 8% lower next year in real terms as a result of the UK Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure.

“With fewer resources it becomes even more important to prioritise and the Roads Review helps us to do that.”

The roads review was announced by the Deputy Minister in June 2021 freezing all road building projects.

An independent panel was then created and tasked with reviewing the projects considered part of the review.

The findings come with some key recommendations from the panel, including four new road building tests.

A small amount of the 59 projects have been classed as local authority schemes or economic development schemes.

The 15 local authority schemes will be considered in future transport grant funding rounds, subject to meeting the future road building tests.

The Panel’s report also mentions maintaining existing roads and supporting the movement of freight.

Logistics UK’s head of cities and infrastructure policy, Jonathan Walker, said he was “disappointed” with the announcement that road building schemes are to be scrapped.

“Despite this, we now look forward to progress being made on the remaining approved schemes, which have been on hold since June 2021,” he added.

“Overall, the report’s significant references to freight – including the recommendation that a Wales National Freight and Logistics Plan be published – are encouraging for the sector, as is the reference to driver facilities improvements.

“In order to deliver zero carbon and support the Welsh economy, links to ports must also be considered, and where modal shift is referenced, it is important to be realistic about capacity on the rail network. 

“Logistics is a key driver of the UK economy and we are urging for the swift delivery of this strategy to avoid any lengthy delays to investment where it is needed. We look forward to consulting further with members and the Welsh Government to clarify exactly what this report means for the sector, and to seek practicable benefits for industry.”

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