Council to reconsider controversial Cardiff Castle Street road scheme
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A council has been told to reconsider the arrangements it has in place for a well-used road which was re-opened to all traffic last year.
Cardiff Council has been instructed by the Welsh Government to reconsider the scheme it has in place for Castle Street, a busy city centre road.
The road was shut to all traffic in summer 2020, before reopening to just buses and taxis in the autumn of that year.
Last October, Castle Street was reopened to private traffic. One traffic lane was removed and a two-way cycle lane was also installed.
The current scheme is in place on a temporary basis until a permanent decision is made by the council next year after further modelling and analysis of clean air and congestion is undertaken.
The Welsh Government has now called upon the local authority to consider alternatives in a bid to further clamp down on the levels of air pollution in the city.
Following “constructive” discussions with Cardiff Council, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, said she has signed a direction – a formal instruction – detailing the actions the authority will take.
Ms James said: “The direction requires Cardiff Council to implement a permanent infrastructure scheme for Castle Street to ensure sustained compliance with nitrogen dioxide limits.
“The authority will undertake a further feasibility study for options that they propose to consider as potential alternatives to the approved scheme.”
She added: “The schedule to the direction lists a number of requirements in relation to the additional assessment.
“These include provision of initial scoping proposals and initial and final plans to an appropriate timetable, reflecting the urgency of our programme to deliver compliance with nitrogen dioxide limits.
“Our independent air quality review panel will provide expert scrutiny and support throughout this process. We will work closely with Cardiff Council to support delivery of the direction requirements.
“Whilst undertaking this further assessment, Cardiff Council will continue to closely monitor air quality in the city centre and undertake action where necessary to ensure levels on Castle Street continue to remain compliant.”
Cardiff Council said a permanent decision on Castle Street will be taken by cabinet “early next year”.
A council spokesperson said: “In a statement from Cardiff Council, it was made clear that the current traffic arrangements in place on Castle Street has ensured that air quality on this street is compliant with all air quality limit values set out in legislation.
“The current arrangements have been installed on an interim basis and a decision will be taken on the future of the thoroughfare by Cardiff Council’s cabinet early next year, after the completion of further assessment works.
“This follows a previous legal direction from Welsh Government on air quality, which was complied with through decisions that were taken in June 2021 – to reintroduce traffic following a prolonged closure during the height of the Covid pandemic.”
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