Posted: Sun 17th Sep 2023

Wales has become the first UK nation to drop the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Sep 17th, 2023


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Wales has become the first nation in the UK to roll out a default 20mph speed limit for residential roads.

This new limit came into force on all “restricted” roads today, Sunday, 17th September.

Restricted roads are generally residential or busy pedestrian streets with streetlights.

While there are some exemptions, local authorities can apply for specific roads to remain at 30mph.

Most restricted roads in Flintshire will switch to 20mph. However, Flintshire Council has highlighted several roads that could retain their 30mph status following the legislative change today.

Highlighting the public health benefits of this law change, First Minister Mark Drakeford remarked that it aims to “prevent loss of life”.

He mentioned that slower speeds would “foster safer communities for all, including drivers.”

Drakeford further commented, “The changes will make our streets calmer, diminish noise pollution, and the reduced speeds might encourage more people to cycle or walk locally. It could also motivate children to play outside.”

The Welsh Government’s data estimates the 20mph policy’s implementation cost at £33m. This encompasses publicity, updating signs, and modifying road markings.

Furthermore, the Welsh Government believes the 20mph policy is a cost-saving measure that not only saves lives but could also save up to £92 million annually.

However, the change has faced stern opposition, with critics raising concerns about extended journey durations, additional delivery costs for businesses, ambiguous effects on vehicle emissions, and the possible increase in road rage.

An online petition, initiated by a Buckley resident opposing the scheme, has gathered over 70,000 signatures.

The speed reduction was first introduced in areas including Buckley, Mynydd Isa, New Brighton, Drury, Burntwood, Bryn y Baal, and Alltami on 28 February 2022.

This ‘trial’ was met with significant resistance.

The Welsh Conservatives, have said speed limit reduction as part of an ‘anti-car agenda’. However, ministers counter that the 20mph limit “enhances road safety for every user and can save lives.”

They state, “Introducing 20mph can benefit even car users. This includes a more consistent traffic flow, potentially shorter travel times due to fewer cars on roads, and reduced accidents by promoting safer driving.”

Satellite Navigation

Drivers have been warned not to rely on sat-navs for the speed limit on residential roads in Wales now that the new speed limit is in force.

The RAC said motorists should follow road signs for the speed limit.

“Until sat-nav systems have been fully updated, they shouldn’t rely on them to know what the speed limit is on any particular stretch of Welsh road,” said Simon Williams, of the RAC.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS said:

“There is already confusion surrounding the rollout of the blanket 20mph speed limit change. Satellite Navigation not identifying 20mph speed limits does nothing more than add to the overall uncertainty on the rollout of this madcap policy. People rely on their sat-nav in unfamiliar areas to inform them of the appropriate speed limits.”

The Welsh Government confirmed that GoSafe and Welsh police forces “wholeheartedly back the national 20mph limit and will uphold its enforcement, as is the standard for all speed limits.”

To ensure safety, a mix of mobile enforcement vehicles and stationary cameras will be deployed.

Additionally, groups like Community Speed Watch, Welsh Fire and Rescue Services, and local police units will “persistently seek chances to educate speeding drivers roadside.”

Frequently Asked Questions


1.  Where can I find out more about Welsh Government’s 20mph legislation and why it is being introduced across Wales? 

Please visit Welsh Government’s website https://www.gov.wales/20mph-speed-limits

2.  Will all roads in Flintshire change to 20mph on 17 September? 

On 17 September 2023, all restricted roads will change to 20mph.

3.  What is a restricted road? 

Restricted roads are typically located within residential areas and currently have a speed limit of 30mph and a system of street lighting (defined as three or more street lighting columns within 183m).

4.  If a road has street lights but the speed limit is 40mph or 50mph will it change to 20mph in September?

No.  Only restricted 30mph roads will change to 20mph in September.  Roads with a speed limit higher than 30mph where there are street lights will retain their existing speed limit.

5.  What criteria will the Council follow when introducing Welsh Government’s new 20mph legislation?

In the first instance, all councils across Wales have a legal duty to introduce 20mph on all restricted roads on 17 September 2023.

Welsh Government’s criteria can be found here.

6.  Welsh Government has published ‘exceptions criteria’ which detail how highway authorities can set exceptions to 20mph speed limits on restricted roads in Wales.

Can the Council make my road an exception?

Only restricted roads that meet the Welsh Government ‘exceptions criteria’ can be considered for an exception.

In November 2022, Welsh Government published ‘exceptions criteria’ which detail how highway authorities can set exceptions to 20mph speed limits on restricted roads in Wales.

To apply an ‘exception’ to a restricted road, local councils must have a clear and reasoned case for doing so, which demonstrates that strong evidence exists that retaining a higher speed limit would be safe.  Not all existing 30mph roads will meet this test, although it is likely that stretches along some roads will.

The Council has undertaken a review of roads in Flintshire involving an impartial assessment in accordance with Welsh Government’s 20mph place criteria and exceptions criteria.

As part of this assessment process, local elected members were asked to identify roads in their wards which met Welsh Governments criteria and the following roads were put forward as possible exceptions:

  • A549 Mold Road, Mynydd Isa
  • A549 Chester Road / Dirty Mile – Little Mountain, Buckley
  • B5127 Liverpool Road, Buckley
  • B5128 Church Road, Buckley
  • Drury Lane, Buckley
  • St Davids Park, Ewloe
  • White Farm Road, Buckley
  • A541 Hendre
  • A541 Denbigh Road, Mold
  • A5104 Warren Bank Interchange, Broughton
  • A5026 Holway Road, Holywell
  • B5121 Greenfield Road, Holywell
  • B5129 Kelsterton Road, Kelsterton
  • B5129 Queensferry Roundabout

The proposals for these roads to revert to 30mph after the implementation of 20mph legislation in September, were subject to a formal 21 day statutory consultation which opened on 28 July 2023 and closed on Friday 18 August 2023.

Responses received during the consultation period will now progress through the formal process outlined here.

After the introduction of Welsh Government’s new Wales wide 20mph legislation in September, local communities will be able to put forward further roads for consideration for an exception via the Council’s website.  More information about how residents can do this will be made available in the autumn.

Following completion of the introduction of 20mph speed limit restrictions, a comprehensive speed limit review of all roads in Flintshire will take place using relevant Welsh Government guidance.  This is a significant piece of work and will be carried out over the next five years.

7.  What is the process for analysing responses to Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) objections/comments?

Local authorities are responsible for making sure a fair, impartial and objective process is followed when considering objections and/or comments to a TRO.

The procedures for handling objections and comments are set out in the Council’s Constitution and scheme of delegation and are controlled by legal services.

More information on the formal process for creating a TRO from beginning to end can be found here.

8.  Are Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) determined by the number of responses you receive during the statutory consultation period? 

The statutory consultation process does not come down to the number of objections or comments received during the process.  It is the content of the comments received that will determine whether a TRO is implemented or not.

For example, 10 objections received from residents stating that they simply do not like the proposal would not be classified as a valid cause to object, whereas one objection providing evidence that the proposal does not meet the criteria, or evidence that the proposal could have a negative impact on individuals and/or the wider public, could potentially be classified as a valid objection.

9.  If my road is considered to be an exception, when will 30mph be reinstated? 

Whilst the Council has formally advertised roads that meet the exception criteria over the summer, the required Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) cannot be legally implemented until after the 17 September 2023 following the introduction of the new legislation.

This means that all existing 30mph restricted roads in Flintshire (including those which may be considered exceptions) will default to 20mph on 17 September and advertised exceptions will not revert back to 30mph until the Traffic Regulation Orders have been implemented.

Objections and or comments of support received during the consultation period are subject to a formal statutory process, which dependent upon the number of responses received and/or their complexity, can take some time to complete.

All roads will be appropriately signed during each part of this process.

10.  How many roads in Flintshire will be granted an exception therefore enabling a 30mph speed limit to be implemented?

A statutory consultation on the following roads opened on Friday 28 July and closed on Friday 18 August 2023.

  • A549 Mold Road, Mynydd Isa
  • A549 Chester Road / Dirty Mile – Little Mountain, Buckley
  • B5127 Liverpool Road, Buckley
  • B5128 Church Road, Buckley
  • Drury Lane, Buckley
  • St Davids Park, Ewloe
  • White Farm Road, Buckley
  • A541 Hendre
  • A541 Denbigh Road, Mold
  • A5104 Warren Bank Interchange, Broughton
  • A5026 Holway Road, Holywell
  • B5121 Greenfield Road, Holywell
  • B5129 Kelsterton Road, Kelsterton
  • B5129 Queensferry Roundabout

Responses received during the consultation period are now subject to the formal process outlined here.

Until this formal process is complete it is not possible to say how many of the roads listed above will revert to 30mph.

After the introduction of Welsh Government’s new Wales wide 20mph legislation in September, local communities will be able to put forward further roads for consideration for an exception via the Council’s website.  More information about how residents can do this will be made available in the autumn.

11.  What is the deadline for exceptions requests?

Technically, there is no deadline for the submission of exception requests.

Here in Flintshire we have undertaken a review of roads involving an impartial assessment in accordance with Welsh Government’s 20mph place criteria and exceptions criteria.

As part of this assessment process, local elected members were asked to identify roads in their wards which met Welsh Government’s criteria.

A total of fourteen roads were put forward and these roads were subject to a statutory consultation process between 28 July and 18 August.  Responses received during the consultation period will now progress through the formal process outlined here.

After the introduction of Welsh Government’s new Wales wide 20mph legislation in September, local communities will be able to put forward further roads for consideration for an exception via the Council’s website.  More information about how residents can do this will be made available in the autumn.

12.  I’ve responded to a Traffic Regulation Order consultation and I’ve not yet heard the outcome, how long will it take? 

To create a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) a formal statutory process must be followed.   TROs are written legal documents to which objections, or comments of support, must be received in writing to the address specified, on or before the specified closing date.

Following the closing date objections or comments of support are then subject to a formal statutory process, which dependent upon the number of responses received and/or their complexity, can time some time to complete.

The formal process for the creation of a TRO from beginning to end comprises:

  1. A Notice of Proposal to be placed in the local press for a statutory minimum period of 21 days for which formal objections may be lodged against the proposals.  A Notice of Proposal is also placed on site, and an information pack is available online and in the relevant Connects Centre, for public inspection.
  2. Any objections (or comments of support) that are received during this time will then be considered impartially by the Authority, for which a Delegation Report will be completed outlining the Authority’s decision as to whether to overrule of uphold individual objections received.  This report must then pass through the required governance processes.
  3. A Final Order and Notice of Making is completed.  A Notice of Making is placed on site, and an information pack is available online and in the relevant Connects Centre, for public inspection.
  4. The Order is sealed by the Legal Department.
  5. Within 14 days of the Order being sealed by FCC legal department a full written response will be provided to the Objectors or respondents in support of the Order.
  6. Following completion of the steps above, works will commence on site.

Whilst the Council has formally advertised roads that meet the exception criteria over the summer, the required Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) cannot be legally implemented until after the 17 September 2023 following the introduction of the new legislation.

Until the statutory consultation process has been completed, it is not possible to say how many of the roads suggested will change to 30mph, but for those that do this means that on 17th September they will default to 20mph and will not be changed to 30mph until the Traffic Regulation Orders have been implemented.

How long it will take for the traffic regulation orders to be implemented will depend upon the number of responses received to the statutory consultation and the process of formal consideration and response.

13.  If Flintshire County Council were not to follow the 20mph criteria set by Welsh Government, and reverted a road back to 30mph, would the Council be liable to legal challenge if there was an accident?

Local councils cannot legally disregard criteria when applying speed restrictions to local roads.  All speed limits are assessed impartially based on specified national criteria.

14.  Will all the signs be changed ready for the implementation of 20mph in September?

Flintshire has over 1,000 30mph signs that need to be changed to 20mph on the 17 September.  To achieve this, work is already ongoing and all correct signage will be in place ready for the launch on 17 September.

On the 17 September, the new 20mph roundel signs will be accompanied by temporary “New 20mph Limit” signs that will be in position for 12 months..

15.  Will there be repeater signs to remind people they are in a 20mph area?

There will be no carriageway roundels or 20mph repeater signs on restricted roads following the introduction of the new legislation in September 2023.

As with current 30mph limits on restricted roads, repeater signs are not required given the presence of street lighting columns. There will be new 20mph signs at each end of the speed restriction area where required. The streetlights along the length of road between these signs will be the reminder that you are in a 20mph area.

Work will now begin to remove these road markings and signs, including those provided as part of the 20mph Phase One Settlement Scheme in Buckley and the surrounding area.  The removal of these road markings, either 20mph or 30mph, does not mean that speed restrictions in those areas have been removed, just that the County is getting ready for the Wales wide introduction of 20mph restrictions on 17 September.

16.  What about illuminated flashing speed signs, will they change to flash 20mph?

Illuminated flashing 30mph roundels that are triggered when vehicles exceed 30mph are called vehicle-activated signs.    Used as traffic calming devices, these have been implemented in many locations across Flintshire to reinforce speed limits.    Most of these signs are manufactured to only display one maximum speed limit and so these will need to be decommissioned before 17 September.  Given that town / community councils have funded some of these signs, we intend to replace existing flashing 30mph roundels with programmable variable message signs, but this is likely to take place in 2024 where funding allows.

Welsh Government has not indicated whether future funding will be available to provide vehicle actuated speed signs at new locations, but such measures will continue be considered as part of local safety schemes.

17.  There are already 20mph signs around schools, will they stay in place? 

Speed limits on roads in Flintshire that immediately surround a school are already subject to 20mph advisory speed restrictions.  These are usually marked by a red “20” in the centre of the sign and a black circle.  These signs will be removed before 17 September as the existing advisory 20mph speed limit will be replaced with Welsh Government’s new 20mph legislation.

20mph zone signs, with a 20 roundel and “PARTH ZONE” wording, will also be removed as the wider area will be subject to 20mph from 17 September.

18.  We have traffic calming features along my road to help keep traffic speeds down, will these be removed when 20mph is introduced? 

Many local communities will have traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, yellow-backed speed limit signs and red carriageway patches, which were introduced using previous guidance. Physical traffic calming measures, such as chicanes, humps and cushions, are no longer required by legislation to self-enforce 20mph speed limits and will only be considered as part of future local safety schemes. Yellow-backed 30mph signs will be replaced by 20mph signs without yellow backing boards and red patches will not be maintained or refreshed once worn.

Existing traffic calming measures will have been introduced in certain areas to improve road safety.  The introduction of 20mph speed limits will not automatically remove the need for existing traffic calming schemes, however, as with all safety schemes, their effectiveness will be continually reviewed.

19.  Will the Council consider requests for new traffic calming schemes after 20mph has been introduced?

Physical traffic calming measures, such as chicanes, humps and cushions, are no longer required by legislation to self-enforce 20mph speed limits.  The Council will consider future requests as part of local safety schemes, but as with the introduction of any safety scheme, their potential effectiveness will be fully assessed prior to any decisions being made to introduce them.

20.  There are street lights along the road through my town/village, does that mean it will become 20mph?

The vast majority of 30mph speed limits are on ‘restricted roads’, and UK government legislation states that if a road has a system of street lighting, then it will be subject to a 30mph limit unless indicated otherwise.   Welsh Government’s new legislation has changed this ‘default’ limit to 20mph from 30mph.

Where a length of street lighting is missing on a 30mph road, for example, if a town or village has got bigger due to the development of new houses, then a legal document called a Traffic Regulation Order is produced and 30mph repeater signs are provided to indicate the speed limit along the unlit stretch of road.

In these instances, to meet Welsh Government’s new legislation, the Council has looked at where it can extend systems of street lighting columns to cover the full length of existing 30mph areas.  Where this happens the existing 30mph Traffic Regulation Orders will be revoked.

There are some locations with no street lighting that have 30mph speed limits covered by Traffic Regulation Orders where new street lighting would not be appropriate or economically viable, such as Common land. In these cases, new 20mph and 30mph Traffic Regulation Orders will be advertised.

21.  Who is paying for the introduction of 20mph on restricted roads in Flintshire?

All costs associated with the implementation of 20mph across Wales will be met by Welsh Government by means of a grant to local councils.

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