Deputy Minister for Climate Change announces freeze on all new road building in Wales
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change has announced a freeze on all new road-building projects in Wales while a review is carried out by the Welsh Government.
The projects currently in the planning phase include a new bridge over the Menai, a new a new eight-mile stretch of dual carriageway to ease congestion on the A55 in the north-east, and the Llandeilo bypass. The latter was agreed in a deal with Plaid Cymru for the 2017-18 budget.
Emissions from transport will need to be cut by around a half if Wales is to hit its net zero ambitions by 2050.
The deputy minister, Lee Waters, said Wales had to take action to “significantly cut carbon emissions”.
“Today, in my role as Deputy Climate Change Minister I’m announcing a pause in all roads schemes not under construction while we review how much headroom we have keep building new roads and meet our Net Zero emissions targets by 2050,” he said.
“I’m asking a panel of experts to look at when new roads are justified – for safety or access reasons for example and how we can redirect funding to roads maintenance and public transport.
“A Climate Emergency demands that we do things differently.”
In the Welsh Government’s new transport strategy published earlier this year, he said that “we need to change the way we travel. We need fewer cars on our roads, and more people using public transport, walking or cycling”.
The same report said that “emissions from surface transport must be roughly halved between 2020 and 2030 from 6 to 3 million tonnes Carbon Dioxide”.
The review will be announced in the Senedd this afternoon.
It comes after plans for a new M4 relief road passed Newport were ditched in 2019. The decision not to go ahead with the road was made by First Minister Mark Drakeford due to environmental concerns and increasing estimated costs.
Yesterday planning protection for the route was scrapped after 25 years, which means that other developments can now be built there. Highways and transport are a devolved issue, despite UK Government expressing a desire to intervene to get the road built.