Environment

Controversial Welsh Government plan to freeze new road projects to be discussed by climate change and transport panel

The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS has announced the Chair and Panel that will be carrying out the Welsh Government’s controversial Roads Review.

The Panel consisting of climate change and transport specialists from across the UK, will be led by Dr Lynn Sloman MBE, a transport consultant based in Wales and board member of Cycling England, who has previously been part of the Lord Burns Commission.

The panel will consist of:

  • Julie Hunt – A Chartered Civil Engineer, Chair of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (Wales) and Chartered Environmentalist.
  • Professor Glenn Lyons – University of the West of England, specialising in Future Mobility.
  • Geoff Ogden – Director of Planning, Development and Advisory Services at Transport for Wales and Chartered Environmentalist.
  • John Parkin – Professor of Transport Engineering and Deputy Director of the Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England.
  • Professor Andrew Potter – Cardiff Business School expert in freight, logistics and operations management.
  • Helen Pye – Carbon-neutral farmer and Head of engagement at Snowdonia National Park Authority with involvement in traffic and parking management.
  • Eurgain Powell – Climate change expert and Transport specialist with the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner.

Following the Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate change emergency, the panel will be asked to consider whether new roads are the right solutions for transport problems, or whether there are alternative sustainable modes of transport that would work better.

The move to freeze road building has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives as a blow for the recovery of the Welsh Economy after the pandemic.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS said: “Many roads across Wales are not fit for purpose and have had a damaging impact on our economic fortunes, environment and public safety. Regular traffic jams deter investment and have contributed to Wales having some of the worst air quality in the UK.

“Ministers seem hell-bent on letting our roads deteriorate and forcing everyone onto public transport, despite major doubts over the ability of the network in Wales to cope after years of poor management and under-investment by Labour.

“Welsh workers and businesses urgently require more information about the scope of the review and the Welsh Labour Government’s long-term intentions for our transport infrastructure.”

Lee Waters, The Deputy Minister for Climate Change and former chief executive of cycling organisation SUSTRANS said: “Transport generates around 17% of all our emissions, so must play its part if we are to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050.

“We need to move away from spending money on projects that encourage more people to drive, and redirect this money on maintaining our existing roads and investing in real alternatives.

“We recognise that these decisions throw up tensions, but we have to confront that if we’re going to make a real difference. We’re not saying this is the end of road construction in Wales, but the panel of experts that I have announced today will ensure that this is no longer the default response to a transport problem.

“Instead money saved by not building new roads will be used to improve existing infrastructure, helping to create new bus and cycle lanes that give people a meaningful alternative choice for travel.”

Panel chair Dr Lynn Sloman, who is a board member of Cycling England and previously worked as a researcher on science and environmental issues at the House of Commons Library said: “The Panel will bring a wealth of experience and diversity of perspectives to this Review. The climate emergency makes it imperative that we avoid any investment that increases carbon emissions, especially in the next 15 years when most cars on the road will still be petrol and diesel vehicles.

“But we also need to understand the problems that road schemes have been designed to address – whether safety, air quality or unreliability – and consider how those problems can be tackled without increasing carbon.”

The Roads that will be excluded from the Roads Review are:

  • A465: Dowlais Top to Hirwaun (Sections 5 and 6)
  • A465: Gilwern to Brynmawr (Section 2)
  • A483: Llandeilo
  • A487: Caernarfon to Bontnewydd bypass
  • A487: new Dyfi bridge
  • A494: River Dee bridge
  • A55: Abergwyngregyn to Tai’r Meibion improvements
  • M4: J48 Hendy – Pinch Point scheme

The Panel will provide its final report next summer.

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