Red vs red on the ‘red route’: Welsh Labour MP criticises Welsh Government’s carbon-cutting road freeze
A Welsh Labour MP has criticised the Welsh Government’s decision to pause a new road that was due to be built in his constituency.
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, announced a freeze on all new road-building projects in Wales last week while a review is carried out by the Welsh Government.
But Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside, said he was unhappy that the new ‘red route’ road linking the A55 to the A494 and A550 has been parked.
“The red route is clearly the only option which is going to reduce air pollution in Aston, Higher Shotton, Queensferry and Sealand,” he told the Wrexham Leader.
“This has to be the Welsh Government’s number one priority here. The impact of these fumes being spewed out next to homes, shops and schools is awful. Children’s health must come first.”
Announcing the freeze, Lee Waters said he 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.”
Mark Tami however responded that while he wanted to cut carbon emissions “there isn’t some magic wand to make that happen”.
“What the Welsh Government are promising is a long term solution, but the children along the Aston Hill can’t wait for the long term when they’re breathing dangerously polluted air now,” he said.
“Building the red route doesn’t mean junking carbon cut targets at all, but it does mean taking action now to protect children’s health and I have yet to hear anyone argue convincingly that there is something more important than that.
“The message from me is clear – I back the red route and the Welsh Government needs to turn around and make it happen, fast.”
Alyn and Deeside Senedd Member Jack Sargeant also raised his concerns about the delay with the Minister in Senedd.
He said: “Deputy Minister, you will know that the content of this statement will have a big impact on residents in my constituency, particularly children, who are significantly impacted by the air pollution that this investment was supposed to address.
“Can I ask you, Minister, how confident are you that this will be addressed by the outcome of the review and that any future measures will have a measurable impact on air pollution on roads in Alyn and Deeside?”
Lee Waters replied: “In terms of air quality, this is one of the issues that this Senedd is going to have to face: what goes into a clean air Bill, how ambitious and bold we want to be about that, what package of measures improves air quality.
“There is a vision for simply building bypasses all across Wales, to shift the problem from one place to another. I’m not convinced entirely that that deals with the issue of air quality.
“Clearly, as tailpipe emissions fall away, as cars are increasingly electrified, that’s going to have a significant impact on local air quality within town centres, and behaviour change is a very important part of it, too.
“If we can achieve modal shift, we can reduce traffic, we can reduce pollution and we can reduce congestion.”
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