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Minister confirms significant issues with first Severn Bridge

03 Mar 2023 4 minute read
Pont Hafren under construction. Photo by Paul Dyer is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Welsh MPs have voiced concern over the state of the Severn Bridge.

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies has confirmed there are significant issues with the bridge but said it is not being decommissioned.

The Severn Bridge (Pont Hafren) is the original, and oldest, of two bridges over the River Severn connecting south east Wales with England.

The second bridge opened in 1996 and was renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge in 2018.

Both bridges are operated by Highways England who told Nation.Cymru that they were now reaching the end of the cable inspection works on the structure.

They said details of their inspection works will be shared when their report is finalised.


Mr Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, spoke of the deteriorating condition of the Severn Bridge when giving evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee.

Nuclear energy in Wales was on the agenda and the minister was speaking about the “significant cost” of decommissioning former nuclear power sites, when he diverged to speak about the Severn Bridge.

According to Mr Davies, nuclear plants are now being designed with decommissioning in mind.

He said: “While there has been significant cost to the decommissioning of former sites, there is now a much greater awareness of the reality of life, which is that these things deteriorate over time.

“Just as interestingly, but not particularly relevant to this Committee, there was a huge difference in the design between the old and the new Severn Bridge, which would probably be a matter of great interest to everyone on this Committee in terms of dealing with deterioration.”

Ruth Jones, the Labour MP for Newport West said: “Obviously that is for another day because there are a lot of issues with the old Severn Bridge at the moment.”


Further on in the proceedings, Mr TC Davies wanted to set the record straight, he said: “I just wanted to clarify that I am not for one minute suggesting that either of the Severn bridges are going to be decommissioned.

“I simply wanted to make a point that the original one was not designed very well in terms of maintenance and dealing with the rust and the rest of it and is going to be dealt with. I did not want to set—”

Stepping in, Graham Stuart, UK Tory and Minister of State at Department for Energy Security and Net Zero added: “It would have been an interesting headline to come out of the nuclear session.”

Mr Davies agreed: “It would have been, and I have just realised, and I did not want to give that headline.”

Ruth Jones MP thanked him for his clarification and said: “(In) South Wales, we rely significantly on both bridges, and we look forward to their continued use.”

Highways England

Nation.Cymru asked Highways England for information about the current state of the Severn Bridge, its deterioration, upkeep and the future of the bridge itself.

In a statement it said: “Carrying out these essential cable inspection works will help us to keep the bridge safe for many years to come and we’ll share details of our findings from this inspection once the full report is finalised.”

“We’ve also been able to reduce the number of closures, we’ll now only need one overnight closure of the eastbound carriageway to remove the traffic management.”

The expected closure dates for March are:

  • Full weekend M48 bridge closure to lower and remove the inspection gantries using a crane:
    • 7pm Friday 17 March to 6am Monday 20 March
  • Eastbound overnight closure to remove the lane one traffic management:
    • 7pm Monday 20 March to 6am Tuesday 21 March


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Geoff Harris
Geoff Harris
1 year ago

England’s Glory?

The original mark
The original mark
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Harris

Clearly England need to come up with the cost of maintenance,

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