Posted: Sun 13th Feb 2022

Deeside politicians want £300m ‘Red Route’ money spent on local transport infrastructure IF plans are scrapped

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Feb 13th, 2022

Deeside politicians want the hundreds of millions of pounds earmarked for the so-called A494/A55 “Red Route” scheme to be spent on local transport infrastructure if the plans are ditched.

A new commission has been set up by the Welsh government to look at road, rail and other transport links across north Wales.

The commission announced by Deputy Climate Minister Lee Waters last week will undertake a year-long review with the aim of developing a “pipeline of transport schemes” for the region.

The North Wales Transport Commission follows the model of a commission set-up after the cancellation of the M4 relief road in south east Wales and will also be led by Lord Terry Burns, former Permanent Secretary of the UK Treasury.

But the commission’s review will further delay progress of the so-called Deeside “Red Route” scheme and could ultimately recommend for it be scrapped altogether.

A separate review panel was set up after the Welsh government suspended all new road projects in Wales as part of its plans to tackle the climate emergency.

That move put a halt to a proposed 13km two-lane dual carriageway linking the A55 at Northop with the A494 and A550 north of Deeside Parkway Junction via the Flintshire Bridge – known as the Red Route.

It was chosen ahead of an alternative “Blue Route” route following a 12-week consultation in 2017.

The Blue Route plan would have seen improvements along the A494 Aston Hill and the Ewloe interchange with the A55 without the need for a new road being built.

The proposed Red Route would cut through ancient woodland in Northop

Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside slammed the decision to freeze the scheme, at the time he said: “The red route is clearly the only option which is going to reduce air pollution in Aston, Higher Shotton, Queensferry and Sealand.”

“This has to be the Welsh Government’s number one priority here.”

“The impact of these fumes being spewed out next to homes, shops and schools is awful. Children’s health must come first.”

The suspension of new road-building projects in Wales was however welcomed by local climate campaigners opposed to the Red Route, “in light of the need to substantially reduce Greenhouse gas emissions over the coming few years.”

The new North Wales Transport Commission will look at a number of local transport schemes and issues including:

-A55 J33b Ewloe to A494 Queensferry interchange corridor study
-A55 – Junction 30
-A55 Slow moving vehicle over taking restrictions
-A55 / A494 Network Resilience Study
-Flintshire Corridor Improvement (Red Route)
-Warren Hall, Flintshire.
-Chester-Broughton Growth Corridor.

The commission will also take account of the recommendation in Sir Peter Hendy’s recent Union Connectivity Review undertaken for the UK Government for a multi-modal review of the A55 corridor linking North Wales and North West England.

In a joint statement, Jack Sargeant MS and Mark Tami MP said: “We remain strong supporters of the red route as we believe it is the best way to improve air quality for our residents.”

“We welcome the Minister’s warm words about public transport in north Wales, but it is now time to be clear on investment going forward.”

“If the Red Route were not to proceed, we would expect all the funding allocated to still be spent on transport infrastructure in Deeside.”

Mark Tami MP and Jack Sargeant MS

Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters said: “If we are serious about facing up to the Climate Emergency, we have to be willing to do things differently, and critically to give people across north Wales genuine alternatives to using their cars for most journeys.

“As well as looking at the A55 corridor, the North Wales Transport Commission will also look at how we can improve sustainable transport options in rural areas.”

“This will need a shift of investment towards public transport and I’m very pleased Lord Burns has agreed to lead a panel of local experts to set out a detailed list of projects that will be needed to make this a reality.”

“This does not mean the end of road building, but it does mean a greater emphasis on looking after the roads we already have as well as investing in alternatives to give people a real choice.”

Business and local authority leaders from North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester in the Growth Track 360 partnership have welcomed the announcement of a  North Wales Transport Commission.

Growth Track 360 Vice Chair and Leader of Flintshire Council, Councillor Ian Roberts, said: “Following the cancellation of the M4 Relief Road, Lord Terry Burns recommended a game-changing package of improvements to bus, rail and active travel in South Wales which is now on the way to implementation.”

“We look forward to supporting Lord Burns and his team by showcasing our ready-to-go plans for active travel and bus improvements in North Wales along with our cross-border package of rail investments on the North Wales Main Line, the Wrexham-Bidston line and at Shotton and Chester stations.”

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