‘Rural areas sacrificed’: Gwynedd leader ‘furious’ with cancellation of Llanbedr bypass
The leader of Gwynedd council has said that he is “furious” with today’s announcement that a bypass in the county has been cancelled by the Wesh Government.
Dyfrig Siencyn said that rural areas were being sacrificed on the altar of climate change “where the real problem and the answers lie in our urban areas”.
He said that such decisions in areas with very little public transport meant that they were now “consigned into economic deserts and empty communities”.
It was announced this afternoon that the Welsh Government had pulled the plug on the much-delayed £14m Llanbedr bypass project.
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change has now confirmed that the Welsh Government “will not support any further work on the current Llanbedr Access Road scheme”.
But Gwynedd Council leader Dyfrig Siencyn said that the decision was a “crushing blow” for the people who lived in the area.
“I am furious with today’s announcement by Welsh Government based on a report which shows a complete lack of understanding of a rural situation in terms of road usage or the desperate need for jobs of high quality in one of the areas with the lowest household incomes,” he said.
“It is clear that once again rural areas can be sacrificed on the altar of climate change where the real problem and the answers lie in our urban areas.
“This is a crushing blow to our hopes and aspirations for the people of Meirionnydd. Despite fine words by Ministers who represent urban areas, they have no understanding and no empathy with the problems facing our rural communities and clearly have no desire to improve the lives of people who live and work here.
“The potential increase in carbon emissions form the new road scheme fade into insignificance when compared to the emissions and pollution suffered by the residents of Llanbedr over the summer months, when hundreds of vehicles are at a standstill in the village.
“Moreover it seems that rural areas are now to be consigned into economic deserts and empty communities for the pleasure of those who travel here regardless of their Carbon emissions.
“We are not to have an infrastructure fit for the 21st century and we must be satisfied with a peasant subsistence whilst those in our cities and urban areas can benefit from an efficient public transport system, and ready access to jobs and public services.
“I invite the authors of this report to come and live in Meirionnydd so that they can experience the reality of life here. They should come and meet us to explain how they reached their flawed conclusions. I despair that we are once more to suffer from a short sighted urban attitude which has scant regard for the well being of rural communities.
“I will continue to fight on in the face of this decision and will continue to press the case with Ministers for a substantial change in attitude.”
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, said that he would provide funding for an “alternative package of measures to address the negative impact of traffic in Llanbedr and in other villages on the A496”.
Lee Waters had confirmed in September that Llanbedr would be “fast-tracked” by the independent committee tasked with the final decision, which is made up of transport and climate change experts. The Chair of the Roads Review Panel, Dr Lynn Sloman, lives near Machynlleth.
However, he said that the committee had now decided not to crack on with the project.
“I have asked my officials to work with Gwynedd Council to commission Transport for Wales to develop an alternative package for consideration, in line with the chair’s recommendations,” he said.
“Any Welsh Government funding for this package will be via the Local Transport Fund and subject to the usual application process.”
The Welsh Government had agreed to fast-track a decision on Llanbedr so that we don’t lose EU funding that had been put towards the project.
The project had however been hit by rising costs due to Brexit and the pandemic, Gwynedd Council heard last month.
The decision will raise fears – and hopes – that other roads whose development has been frozen by the Welsh Government will not see the light of day.
Plaid Cymru Llanbedr Councillor, Annwen Hughes, said that she was “shocked to hear this devastating news today”.
“I feel that the community of Llanbedr and the surrounding area have been led up the garden path by the Welsh Government,” she said.
“Our discussions with the Welsh Government in recent months were positive. Our hopes had been raised that Llanbedr by-pass would be delivered, but today those hopes have been dashed. It is a bitter blow.
“Where does this now leave our community? Where does this leave our economy? What affect will this have on the Welsh Government’s own Llanbedr Airfield site, and the potential there to create jobs for local people?
“This feels like a bitter betrayal from our own Government in Cardiff. Their concerns regarding the climate should also relate to concerns about our community’s health, well-being and future prospects.
“We will continue to oppose this decision and push Ministers to re-look at this issue.”
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