Welsh Conservatives to hold Wales’ transport minister to account over its decision to scrap road projects
Welsh Conservatives are to hold Wales’ transport minister to account over its decision to scrap the majority of new roads being built in Wales.
The debate will take place today, Wednesday, March 8th, 2023, in the Welsh Parliament.
The move comes after a government-appointed Roads Review Panel examined 59 new road-building projects and recommended 75% of them be scrapped or substantially amended.
The review was based on four criteria, including whether a project would increase road capacity for cars.
As a result of the review, the so-called “Red Route” was scrapped, it would have seen a new eight-mile stretch of dual carriageway built to link the A55 at Northop with the A494 and A550 north of Deeside Parkway Junction via the Flintshire Bridge.
It was chosen as the preferred route after a public consultation in 2017 bidding to solve heavy traffic and air pollution on the A494 Aston Hill.
Supporters of the Red Route had argued that it was necessary to ease congestion and improve air quality on the A494 Aston Hill, while opponents had raised concerns about the negative impact on the environment and the health of local residents.
Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters has said that some improvements will be made to the A494 at Aston Hill calling it a “separate case,” “we will look with local authorities to develop solutions that will bring some short-term benefits to that area.
The specific details of these improvements have not been disclosed, but according to Flintshire County Council’s Leader, Councillor Ian Roberts, the Council is concerned that there are no alternative solutions being put forward and no funding for much-needed improvement works to local transport infrastructure.
Leading today’s debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport and Technology, Natasha Asghar MS, called the Labour government’s actions “completely economically irresponsible” and accused them of “slashing vital funding for buses, axing money for active travel and cutting investment in sustainable transport.”
Asghar also criticised the lack of engagement by the roads review panel with the public, elected representatives, local authorities, businesses, and the third sector during the course of the review.
The Welsh Conservative motion proposes that the Senedd “notes the report of the Welsh government’s roads review panel, The Future of Road Investment in Wales,” regrets the lack of engagement by the roads review panel, and believes that the panel’s recommendations fail to deliver the transport infrastructure the people of Wales rightfully deserve.
Lee Waters, the deputy climate change minister in the Labour-led Welsh government said: “We will still invest in roads. We are building new roads but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems. We are also investing in real alternatives, including investment in rail, bus, walking and cycling projects.
“Our approach for the last 70 years is not working. The bypass that was demanded to relieve congestion often ends up leading to extra traffic, which in time brings further demands for extra lanes, wider junctions and more roads.
“Round and round we go, emitting more and more carbon as we do it, and we will not get to net zero unless we stop doing the same thing over and over.”
The issue of transport infrastructure has been a contentious issue in Wales, with concerns being raised about the state of existing roads and the need for investment in new projects. However, there is also a growing recognition of the need to prioritise sustainable transport options and reduce reliance on cars.
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