Councils and local communities to decide which roads should be excluded from Wales’ new 20mph speed limits
The Welsh Government has published guidance on how local authorities – with the input of the community – will be able to exclude certain roads from Wales’ new 20mph speed limits which are coming into force next year.
In July the Senedd passed legislation to change the National Default Speed Limit in Wales on restricted roads from 30 mph to 20 mph from 17 September 2023.
Restricted roads include those with street-lights and are usually located in residential and built-up areas with high pedestrian activity.
New research published this week claims the controversial new 20mph default speed limits across Wales could save £100m as deaths and injuries are reduced.
The Welsh Government launched a 20mph pilot on roads in Buckley, Mynydd Isa, Alltami and New Brighton in February.
However, the trial created a fierce backlash with residents claiming it has led to road rage incidents, as well as rising pollution and fuel costs.
There have been widespread calls for main arterial roads through the town to be returned to 30mph, after a blanket 20mph limit was imposed.
In March Flintshire council confirmed it has asked the Welsh government to review the 20mph speed limit on main arterial roads as a matter of a “high priority.”
Since then residents have been battling to get the 20mph speed limit on those arterial roads reversed.
In an open letter published in October, they called on Flintshire County Council officials to “actively engage” with the community over speed limits.
Buckley residents say they felt “ignored and ridden roughshod over” due to a lack of engagement by officials.
Ahead of next year’s nationwide roll-out, the Welsh Government has said that local authorities will be best placed to “engage with the local community“ to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.”
The Welsh Government’s new guidance is “intended for local interpretation by highway authorities to make evidence-based decisions on setting exceptions to the default speed limit of 20mph on restricted roads in Wales.”
It provides a “methodology to ensure a consistent approach to exceptions across Wales is taken; yet allowing for local factors and circumstances to be taken into account.”
The document published on Wednesday outlines the criteria for setting exceptions to 20mph speed limits based on “two principal questions.”
It notes that “speed limits of 40mph and above should not generally be changed at this stage, but their limits may need to be reviewed after 17 September 2023” The document states.
In statement Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “Highways authorities are currently preparing for the necessary changes in advance of the 20mph default speed limit on restricted roads coming into force in September 2023.”
“The new legislation will not apply a blanket speed limit on all roads, it will simply make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities, who know their area best, to engage with the local community to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.”
He said: “The Welsh Government has been working closely with highway authorities to design a process for making 30mph exceptions and the Exceptions Guidance.”
“The guidance provides a tool to help apply reasoning for making any exception, whilst also taking into account local factors and circumstances. It also ensures a consistent approach is taken across Wales.”
Mr Waters said: “Over the coming months, highway authorities will be consulting on all their proposed exceptions to the new 20mph default speed limit ensuring that local people can have their say on the proposals.”
The Welsh Government is launching an interactive map which “will be updated regularly as highway authorities go through the consultation process.”
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