Former minister calls for transport decisions to be devolved to north Wales
Clwyd South MS and former Welsh Transport Minister Ken Skates has called for all decisions over the region’s roads to be devolved from Cardiff to north Wales.
Mr Skates made the call after the Welsh Government confirmed all major road building projects in Wales have been scrapped over environmental concerns.
Plans for a third Menai bridge have also been axed as have proposals for the controversial Red Route in Flintshire.
The move was announced this afternoon as part of the Welsh government’s National Transport Plan following a year-long review.
Under the plan, all future roads must pass strict criteria including not increasing carbon emissions, the number of cars on the road, higher speeds or negatively impacting the environment.
Transport campaigners have welcomed the government’s decision to place climate change at the at heart of future road investment, however responding to the plans, Mr Skates said decisions over all roads – major and minor – should be made in the north.
At present, decisions over whether to improve the A483, A55, A494 and A5 are made in Cardiff. Mr Skates wants those decisions to be made in North Wales – with funding also handed to the north.
He said: “We need certainty over how transport in North Wales will be improved. I’ve been Minister for Transport and Economy. The two roles are now split, but they are both incredibly demanding.
Having that experience, I firmly believe that decisions over roads, buses, rail and active travel are best made at a regional level. It’s time to devolve to the North, beginning with our major roads.”
Mr Skates also said decisions and funding over rail improvements in North Wales should be devolved to the region from Westminster.
Announcing the new strategy, deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters MS told the Senedd: “Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads.
“In fact, we are building new roads as I speak – but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems.
“We are also investing in real alternatives, including investment in rail, bus, walking and cycling projects.
“Even if we’d wanted to keep progressing all the road schemes in the pipeline we just do not have the money to do so.
“Our capital budget will be 8% lower next year in real terms as a result of the UK Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure.
“With fewer resources it becomes even more important to prioritise and the Roads Review helps us to do that.”
He added: “Our approach for the last 70 years is not working.
“As the review points out the by-pass that was demanded to relieve congestion often ends up leading to extra traffic, which in time brings further demands for extra lanes, wider junctions and more roads.
“Round and round we go, emitting more and more carbon as we do it and we will not get to Net Zero unless we stop doing the same thing over and over.”
To reach net zero by 2050 the minister said the government must be “prepared to follow through”.
Describing the Transport plan as a landmark announcement, Paula Renzel from TAN Cymru said: “Despite their forward-thinking policies, it would have been all too easy to continue building roads as usual. Yet for the first time we have a Government within the UK that is prepared to do what’s best for future generations.
“Today’s decisions are welcome as they provide clarity for local communities on what is going to happen. Improving transport in Wales won’t be easy, especially with the savage cuts to public funding. However, the Panel’s focus has been on seeking lower cost solutions more likely to stand the test of time. This means local communities will get their problems addressed sooner rather than later.
Haf Elgar, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru2, added: “This world-leading report is a breath of fresh air that promises a greener and fairer transport system in Wales. The response of the Welsh Government shows they are serious about tackling the climate emergency.
“We must break the cycle of building more roads for more cars – it will only create more congestion, make our air more polluted, and increase the emissions that are wrecking our climate.
“For the sake of the planet and our health, we need investment in better walking and cycling routes, and vastly improved public transport across Wales, including rural areas, to make it easier for people to leave the car at home.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “I welcome today’s announcement and the intention to divest from pollution-intensive sectors.
“For too long, we’ve spent millions on new roads with no real improvements in road safety or congestion where we need it most.
“At the same time, successive Labour Governments in Cardiff Bay have left public transport, the best way to encourage more sustainable travel, to suffer.
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Thank God Caernarfon bypass got done, what a difference it has made…
UDI for Gwynedd from the control freaks down south…
Does this mean that there has been a palace coup while MD is on compassionate leave, because he made an announcement to the contrary last October regarding the Menai crossing…
Will Lee Waters be compensating Cyngor Ynys Mon for sinking their Freeport bid, I wonder ?
Mind you if this is one big smugglers cave the less roads to the mainland the better…
I’m delighted to hear that you got the bypass for Caernarfon down here we are still stuck in The Brynglas tunnels at Newport on The M4, even the Llandeilo bypass is around 50 years overdue.
Ideology on all sides will beggar us and our neighbours…
Is Lee Waters making his move on the First Minister’s job ?
Yet another unelected glorified Quango pronounces…
They are stealing our country and our capital city…
Our young people with honest ambition and talent will pick up their degrees and flee from a confused and gullible country that resembles a Powys pond full of plump carp, while a pack of marauding mink feast on them, taking a bite and leaving the mauled fish to expire on the bank before savaging another… It is not north against south, it is lazy, young but avaricious and sharp clawed predators after the young, old, lame and gullible of the herd. Cameron, May and Fat Shanks’ Brexit effect is everywhere, corrupting and polluting… It will need a new century secular… Read more »
Yet while he was in Government in England, he refused devolution ideas for Wales time and time again. This is clearly designed to Divide and Conquer. Let’s stoke up Northern hatred for their compatriots in the South.
If Lee Walters gets his way Wales will be reduced to Pony and traps for transport pretty soon. Forget the politics this will have a massive impact on putting firms off from investing in Wales = Angelsea is already becoming a wasteland after brexit. He argues more roads more pollution- can i ask has he not heard petrol and diesel cars are being phased out?
Waters like so many others is so wrapped up in his zany dogma. Yet all it will do is cause problems for ordinary working people. The fantasists in the Bay Bubble and other haunts of the ruling elites will continue to fly to pointless conferences and be shuttled around by land and air as they are exempt from any rules that constrain us.
Rules to ghettoise the population and messianic adulation for the self appointed chosen few…
I detest evangelicals of any stripe…