Calls for Welsh Government to scrap ‘barmy’ plans for nine-metre-high barrier along A494
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Pressure is growing on the Welsh Government to scrap “barmy” plans to build a nine-metre-high fence along a key trunk road in Deeside.
Proposals were recently revealed to install three air quality barriers on the northbound verge of the A494 between the junctions for Queensferry and St David’s Park.
Officials said it was aimed at reducing levels of nitrogen dioxide at the roadside after a 50mph speed limit and average speed cameras were previously introduced on the same stretch of road.
However, residents who live close to the suggested location for the barriers have expressed stern opposition to the scheme, with some comparing the 700-metre-long fence to the Berlin Wall.
One person described it as “one of the barmiest schemes to have come from the Welsh Government in Cardiff”, whilst others are concerned it will block sunlight from entering their homes.
Politicians have now rallied to their cause with Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami calling it an “unacceptable imposition” on residents.
The Labour MP said ministers should focus on pressing ahead with the so-called “Red Route” bypass through Flintshire as an alternative way of cutting air pollution.
He said: “I’ve long campaigned for the Red Route which is the only long-term solution to the environmental problems on this road.
“A barrier is not the answer and is an unacceptable imposition on the community. We need the Red Route and we need it now.”
The Red Route plans would result in the creation of a new 13km, two-lane dual carriageway linking the A55 at Northop with the A494 and A550 north of Deeside Parkway.
The scheme was previously announced as the Welsh Government’s preferred option to ease congestion on the A494, but was put on hold last year as part of a review designed to reduce carbon emissions.
A campaign group called “SAY NO TO THE 9M FENCE” has been set up on Facebook in response to the plans to install air quality barriers on the road, attracting nearly 500 members.
North Wales Senedd member Mark Isherwood said he had been contacted by several residents with concerns about the proposals.
He said: “Concerns have been raised with me by constituents that the Welsh Government are determined to go ahead with these plans despite all the arguments they have made against them.
“(They have said) that these fences will stand 30 feet or nine metres high, and that assurances provided that the fences won’t stop daylight from going into houses and that trees will be planted to soften the effect do not provide the reassurance they seek.
“Constituents have also stated that they ‘view this as about one of the barmiest schemes to have come from the Welsh Government in Cardiff’, and that they ‘hope that there is something that you can do to stop this madness’.
“I further note that Welsh Government planning documents themselves state ‘driver exposure to pollution, inside the barriers, has the potential to increase’.”
Labour MS for Alyn and Deeside Jack Sargeant said: “I take reducing air pollution very seriously but do share residents’ concerns about the impact of barriers on communities.
“I have raised those concerns with Welsh Government and have asked to see evidence on impact of barriers.”
In March, the Welsh Government wrote to Flintshire Council’s planning department to ask whether an environmental impact assessment would be required as part of the proposals.
A government spokesperson said: “Plans for the environmental barriers are currently at an early stage.
“A consultation will begin once the planning application has been made.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.
So local residents are campaigning to retain their intake of nitrogen dioxide?
9m does seem a bit high.
But then, is this the real issue? Is this just NIMBYism? “Send the route through Flintshire instead. Then our air will be cleaner.” “But that will just move the pollution problem there instead” “That’s their problem. It won’t be in MY backyard”
Surely this sounds like an issue that could be solved by applying Tory Free Market principles. Too many vehicles use the road which causes excess polution which is evidence of Market Failure. The Market solution is to introduce a Toll which would then reduce the traffic and solve the problem. As everybody knows Free Market Principles can solve any problem! I’m surprised the Welsh Secretary has not waded in to suggest just that.