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.