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Deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters told the Senedd of the freeze on 22 June

Welsh Government freezes new road projects

Julia Hatmaker

The decision impacts three major schemes in North Wales: the £300m Deeside “Red Route”, £135m third Menai Strait crossing, and the £50m Llandeilo bypass.

Citing concerns over climate change, deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters announced on 22 June that highway schemes would be paused until a review could be conducted.

The review would investigate whether Welsh Governments funds could be put to better use maintaining roads rather than building new ones. Members of the external panel that will handle the review have not been announced.

Transport makes up 17% of total emission in Wales, according to Waters. He said that something would need to be done to address that if Wales was going to reach its statutory target of Net Zero emissions by 2050.

“We need a shift away from spending money on projects that encourage more people to drive and spend more money on maintaining our roads and investing in real alternatives that give people a meaningful choice,” Waters told the Senedd.

The “Red Route” is perhaps the most controversial of the three delayed northern schemes. It aims to create a new eight-mile dual carriageway on the A55 in Flintshire. That dual carriageway will cut through both farmland and ancient woodland. The eight-mile road would link together the A55 and the A494.

Anti-“Red Route” activists took out billboards in Delyn around the time of the election to showcase their displeasure with the scheme. They were largely concerned about the impact it would have on local traffic and on the environment.

Work on the project was expected to begin in 2024.

The Menai Strait crossing plan was engineered to improve capacity, reliability, and safety for those travelling between Gwynedd and Anglesey. A strategic outline business case was completed in spring 2016 on the scheme and construction was supposed to begin in 2020. However, the project appears to have stalled in the preliminary design phase.

The road projects freeze is just the latest delay for the Llandeilo bypass scheme, which was pushed back to 2025 last year. Construction had originally been slated to start in early 2019.

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Fantastic stuff from the Welsh Government! This is the kind of bold thinking we need if we’re going to halt the worst of climate change. We can’t keep living the same lives and pretending its only other people who have to make changes.

By Welsh Mancunian

Madness! Anyone heard of electric vehicles? How else is Welsh tourism supposed to survive if the road network is inadequate for the ever more zero-emissions vans, cars etc? We really cannot just ride bicycles everywhere.

By Anonymous

Well said, Welsh Mancunian. Agree 100%.

By Steve

Great leadership from the Welsh government. Time to cancel all UK road projects and divert the money into rail, public transport, walking and cycling projects. The age of the car – and the terrible air quality is finally coming to a close.

By Anonymous

People won’t stop driving because these routes aren’t constructed. If infrastructure isn’t improved more people will sit in traffic jams creating more pollution than if they were moving. They need to make sure enough carbon offsetting is done for the schemes on adjacent land through planting etc.

By concerned

Frames the problem the right way – new road investment by exception. Once you have that constraint you think about the other modes more creatively.

By Rich X

Excellent leadership from the Welsh Govt!!! We won’t ever achieve a modal shift away from cars while we’re still spending billions of pounds on roads! Bravo!

By Ardy

@ Concerned: Agree that some people will drive regardless; but others, faced with the prospect of sitting in traffic jams, may consider another mode of transport – a bit of modal shift is better than none.
Stick and carrot – and part of the stick is “not making travel by private motor vehicle more attractive”. It’s not an ideal way of progressing of course; far better is to invest heavily in the other modes so that the “carrot” is far better. But, with limited financial resources, in the context it’s better to spend less on roads and more on greener transport.
@ Anonymous: whilst electric vehicles are far better than petrol / diesel, they still have a global environmental cost in their production (rare earth elements, mining, etc) and a local environmental cost: disturbing the peace, visual impact (roads and cars), their “threat” (how much more pleasant it is to walk and cycle when there are no motorised vehicles around…), and their contribution to overall congestion. Tourism is to be supported, but too many tourists can make places unattractive and less pleasant to visit. Suboptimal road infrastructure to the tourist places can help maintain the balance – enough people to sustain local jobs and economy, but not so many as to spoil places…

By Steve

The train from Wilmslow to Pwllheli ( closest station to Abersoch) takes 6 hours and 30 minutes, at a cost of £54.
Realistically, until this improves, everyone will drive.

By Ivor the Engine

Business travel is dead thanks to Zoom and the electric telephone. To arrive sooner, depart sooner. Electric/hydrogen trains, trucks, cars and more by-passes will make thorps and towns safe, quiet and liveable again. That is the answer. What was the question?

By James Yates

A silly decision of course and one that will doubtless be reversed in time. Electric cars and other forms of autonomous transport are coming whether a few councillors having a strop want them or not. You can’t halt the future.

By Anonymous

Anonymous – EV cars may help solve air pollution but they do nothing to address congestion and the problem of pavement parking. Only investing in rail, cycling and public transport will solve these issues. Private cars, electric or not, are too space inefficient, and this is why they cause traffic jams all over the place. We have more than enough roads in this country, time to rebalance investment towards those who can’t afford or don’t want to drive, instead of lavishing spending on the privaledged minority of people who drive cars.

By Anonymous

Climate change is a convenient and topical reason to delay schemes to try to gain political kudos. It’s just one reason why major infrastructure schemes in this country take 10 or 15 years to carry out, when other countries do it in 5. Next, they will change their minds but then realise that in the interim the price has increased so much that they don’t have the resources to implement the proposals without seeking further funds.
When people want a day or longer in Wales they want to go from A (home) to B (destination), without going to C,D,E,F and more along a railway line (if there is one), and paying a fortune to do it. Time is the most precious thing people possess. Nobody wants to waste it. Tourism will suffer if there’s no quick reversal of these decisions.

By Itsy