Campaigners hit out at major road project in Rhondda Cynon Taf
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A campaign group has hit out at the A4119 dualling project as work gets under way in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Transport Action Network (TAN) Cymru, a group that campaigns for sustainable transport, has criticised the project, raising concern about the UK Government’s role in it.
It also says it is not in keeping with the local authority’s commitments on reducing transport emissions and making Rhondda Cynon Taf carbon neutral by 2030.
The project is getting money from the council, Welsh Government and £11.4m from the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund.
The hope is that it will lead to a £30m boost to the local economy and create thousands of new jobs.
Work has begun on the project to dual 1.5km of the A4119 between the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service HQ roundabout in Llantrisant and the Coed Ely roundabout.
A new route for pedestrians and cyclists will also be built to the west of the carriageway from Coed-Ely roundabout to Llantrisant Business Park, and there are plans for a new bridge south of Coed Ely roundabout.
But TAN Cymru has said it is an attempt by the UK Government to undermine the Welsh roads review, adding that it would encourage more traffic and congestion over a wider area.
It welcomes the new active travel infrastructure but says talk of relieving congestion is “nonsense” as schemes like this encourage more traffic over a wider area, as well as driving up emissions, making tackling climate change harder.
Paula Renzel, Welsh roads and climate campaigner from TAN Cymru said: “This seems to be an attempt by the UK Government to undermine the Welsh roads review.
“Why else would it make a song and dance about a relatively small investment in a Welsh road? If the Department for Transport has so much faith in its promised outcomes, why was it not happy for the road to be part of the Welsh Government review?
“While new active travel infrastructure is welcome, this scheme is primarily about increasing road capacity. Talk of relieving congestion is nonsense when schemes like this encourage more traffic and congestion over a wider area.
“This new road adds to the dangerous recent track record of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
“Earlier this year they submitted plans for the Cynon Gateway North, a new road project which would cause significant environmental damage and has been halted by the Welsh Government because of these concerns.
“We would urge Rhondda Cynon Taf council to consult their own Climate Change Strategy published earlier this summer. This project is not in keeping with their commitments on reducing transport emissions and making Rhondda Cynon Taf carbon neutral by 2030.
“It is notable that neither the ecological or climate emergency were mentioned once in the release about dualling the A4119. Not surprising as it will drive up emissions and make the job of tackling climate change that much harder.”
A spokesperson for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “Welsh Government themselves determined that the A4119 Coed Ely dualling scheme was out of the scope of the road review, as it was already so advanced when the review was announced.
“Significant work had already taken place in preparation for the scheme, the majority of which had been funded by Welsh Government.
“The additional subsequent funding from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund has enabled the delivery of this important project, recognising its wider benefits to local communities and the wider region.
“Traffic modelling has indicated that the project will relieve congestion along this main artery road, which is the gateway to the Rhondda valleys and beyond, and has been recognised by Welsh Government as an important sub-corridor off the M4.
“The dualling scheme also has a positive overall net impact on carbon. The project has also gone through the Welsh Government’s WelTAG process for transportation projects which considers the environment, road safety, etc as part of the evaluation process.
“In relation to active travel, the scheme will provide a separate shared community route from Coed Ely roundabout to Llantrisant Business Park – along with a new bridge crossing the A4119 south of Coed Ely roundabout, to provide a new shared community route into the village. These are significant connectivity improvements for walking and cycling locally.
“On a wider scale, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has very ambitious plans for active travel across the county borough, which have recently been approved by Welsh Government.
“The council also has a strong track record in securing funding and delivering a balanced portfolio of projects that promote sustainable transport modes, with the vast majority of sustainable travel taking place on the public highway.
“The A465 Cynon Gateway North scheme is within the scope of the Welsh Government roads review, and the outcome of this is currently awaited.
“This project addresses significant road safety, air quality and connectivity issues across the local area, and it is worth noting that it has overwhelming public support.
“The project, which also has a positive overall net impact on carbon, has received planning consent – and the council has worked closely with various bodies including Natural Resources Wales to provide a project which takes into account the environmental issues and provides mitigation for them.”
A UK Government Department for Transport spokesperson said: “This scheme is not connected to the Welsh roads review and any claims otherwise are untrue.
“We respect the Welsh Government’s position and have funded this scheme to transform journeys for the local community.
“The road is currently overcapacity and congested, and these improvements will reduce journey times by over 60% and increase walking and cycling through a dedicated route for pedestrians and cyclists.”
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