The Welsh Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters has announced that the country has axed all major road building projects to ‘reduce carbon emissions’ and help in the switch to the way people use the road networks.
Following a year-long review across the country, the Welsh Roads Review Panel found that all infrastructure plans must be put on hold, as the Government don’t want any more cars on the roads or emissions in the atmosphere.
The study, which was led by transport expert Dr Lynn Sloman, started in September 2021, and analysed 55 road projects. All of them have either now been paused or are in the process of being reassessed.
Three of the highest profile projects that have now been stopped are the third Menai bridge, updates to the A4042 in Wrexham, and the Red Route in Flintshire.
Of those projects that have been analysed, only 15 will get the go ahead in the future.
Waters said: “Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads. In fact, we are building new roads as I speak – 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. Even if we’d wanted to keep progressing all the road schemes in the pipeline, we just do not have the money to do so.
“Our capital budget will be eight per cent lower next year in real terms as a result of the UK Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure. With fewer resources it becomes even more important to prioritise and the Roads Review helps us to do that.”
During his speech at the Welsh Government, Waters continued to discuss the announcement – focusing on the wider Net Zero goals for 2050
He said: “Our approach for the last 70 years is not working. As the review points out, the by-pass 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.”
However, the announcement has been met with a mixed reaction.
Welsh Conservatives 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.”
Leaders within the Welsh construction industry has criticised the move, saying that it will put jobs at risk and cause issues for drivers.
However, environmental groups have praised the announcement in the fight against climate change.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “These proposals risk grinding Wales and its economy to a halt. Unless Ministers can guarantee alternatives to car travel, they risk causing more congestion on existing routes and making it exceptionally difficult for people in rural areas to get around easily.
“The Welsh Government should instead be looking at how it could help accelerate the take-up of electric vehicles to speed up decarbonisation.”