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All major road building projects in Wales are scrapped


All major road building projects in Wales have been scrapped over environmental concerns.


The planned third Menai bridge will not go ahead and neither will the controversial "red route" in Flintshire.


The move is part of the Welsh government's National Transport Plan and follows a year-long review.


Environmental campaigners called it "world-leading and brave" but some in the construction industry warned the announcement could put jobs at risk.

It comes as the Welsh government is accused of endangering bus services as a senior minister said industry subsidies have yet to be confirmed beyond summer.


The Welsh government said all future roads must pass strict criteria which means they must not increase carbon emissions, they must not increase the number of cars on the road, they must not lead to higher speeds and higher emissions, and they must not negatively impact the environment.

Flintshire council leader Ian Roberts was disappointed by the decision.


"The council is concerned that there are currently no alternative solutions being put forward and no funding for much needed improvement works to local transport infrastructure," he said.


It comes as Ken Skates said Welsh government decisions on roads for the north should be made locally.


Freeze on all new road building projects

Shapps says UK government wants to 'fix' congestion


The Clwyd South Senedd member and former Welsh transport minister said certainty over how transport in north Wales would be improved was needed.


"I firmly believe that decisions over roads, buses, rail and active travel are best made at a regional level," he said.


"It's time to devolve to the north, beginning with our major roads."


A second Labour Senedd member questioned the move by his party.


Blaenau Gwent's Alun Davies called for "more joined up thinking" by ministers.


"If we're going to take services away from people in terms of distance, then what we have to be able to do is to provide the public transport options available for people to reach those services, and that hasn't happened," he added.


Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters told the Senedd the approach of the last 70 years was not working.


"We will not get to net zero unless we stop doing the same thing over and over," he said.


"None of this is easy but neither is the alternative."

To reach net zero by 2050, he said, the Welsh government must "be prepared to follow through".

The deputy minister insisted new roads would be built in future, but said the government was "raising the bar" to ensure any new road was "the right response to transport problems".

M4


In 2021, the Welsh government announced it was conducting a roads review.


An expert panel, led by transport consultant Lynn Sloman, assessed 59 road projects and made recommendations on which projects to proceed with, which to abandon and which to reconsider in a different form.


Of these, 15 will go ahead, but all the rest have been rejected or will be revised.


However, these and all future projects must adhere to a new set of strict criteria in order to be built.

The Welsh government will not consider new projects unless they reduce carbon emissions and support a shift to public transport, walking and cycling, improve safety through small-scale change and help the Welsh government adapt to the effects of climate change.


They must also provide connections to jobs and areas of economic activity in a way that maximises the use of public transport, walking and cycling.

Which roads will not go ahead?

Red Route start at Northop


The controversial Red Route in Flintshire will not go ahead as planned. Instead, improvements will be made to the A494 at Aston Hill.

Plans for a third Menai crossing between Anglesey and the mainland have been replaced by a review into how to improve congestion and the resilience of the current bridges as well as getting people to use other ways to travel.


Improvements to the A483 around Wrexham will also be scrapped and a review will be set up to consider an "exemplar" project to reduce car usage.

Which projects will go ahead?


Only some smaller-scale improvements to roads will go ahead.


The largest of those is the A4042 corridor from Pontypool to the M4 through Torfaen, which had been paused during this review.


Similarly improvements to the A487 between Fishguard and Cardigan will go ahead, as will the A4076 at Haverfordwest.


What has been the reaction?


Environmentalists have welcomed the announcement, calling it "world-leading".

Haf Elgar, from Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: "We were seeing this review as a test of the Welsh government.


"Were they going to be brave enough to walk the walk, not just to say 'we've got a climate emergency' but to actually take those difficult decisions and to make real changes to our future in Wales?


"Today I think we're seeing that.

"I think this is a fresh start that we're seeing that real changes will be made in order to move us to a greener and healthier future."

But the construction industry is worried jobs will be cut and are calling for the Welsh government to give clarity on future investments in infrastructure.

Haf Elgar


Director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Ed Evans, said: "It's a huge announcement, there's no two ways about it.

"What we've just been through has created uncertainty but we can start to get clarity on investments in infrastructure, whether that's maintaining what we've got or new investment in energy for instance, then that will go a long way to ensure that jobs, business and communities are safeguarded."


Christine Boston, from active travel charity Sustrans, added: "If we're serious about meeting the climate crisis challenge, we need to become a society that supports multi-modal transport.

"If we want people to walk, wheel, or cycle alongside using public transport, we need continued investment in improving infrastructure that supports that."


On Twitter, Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said: "Labour ministers in the Senedd won't build new roads in Wales because they'll 'induce demand'.

"Because encouraging more visitors to Wales and money into our economy is obviously a bad thing."

Plaid Cymru's Delyth Jewell said many of the areas where road building projects were being paused were already underserved by public transport links.

"We, of course, have to change that over-reliance on cars, but it won't happen overnight. It's the transition period that I'm most concerned about," she said.


She said a pause in road building without more guaranteed investment in public transport could mean longer journeys, increased travel costs and reduced access to important services.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds, welcomed the announcement.


She said: "For too long, we've spent millions on new roads with no real improvements in road safety or congestion."

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