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Transport campaigners back proposals axing new roads in Wales ahead of Senedd debate

08 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Natasha Asghar speaking in the Senedd.

Transport campaigners have called on the Welsh Conservatives to “stop pretending roads will solve all our problems” ahead of an opposition debate on the government’s roads review in the Senedd this afternoon.

Last month, the Welsh Government confirmed all major road building projects in Wales have been scrapped over environmental concerns as part of its National Transport Plan following a year-long review.

Plans for a third Menai bridge were also axed, along with proposals for the controversial Red Route in Flintshire.

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. a year-long review by the Welsh Roads Review Panel during which 55 road projects were paused and reassessed.

The government said all infrastructure projects in future must also support a shift to public transport, walking and cycling”.

Economically irresponsible

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport and Technology, Natasha Asghar MS, who is leading the debate this afternoon (8 March) has described the plans as “completely economically irresponsible”.

“With more electric cars joining the road network, Labour should be looking at innovative ways of futureproofing transport in Wales with emerging technologies to support drivers to go green,” she added.,

However TAN Cymru, which campaigns for more sustainable transport in Wales, is urging politicians to look at the evidence which it says shows that a massive roads programme is not a solution to road safety, congestion, pollution and economic growth.

The organisation also says it is is concerned that any revival in road building would undermine investment in public transport and action on climate change.

“We need to stop having fantasy debates and start living in the real world,” Paula Renzel, Welsh roads & climate campaigner for TAN Cymru said.

“Widening roads makes traffic and congestion worse overall. We’ve known about this for a hundred years. Ignoring this fact is making things worse, wasting time and energy.

“Big new road schemes take years to build, swallow vast sums of money, destroy the environment and bring very little return on investment once you consider wider costs. Welsh people deserve better.

The Welsh Conservative motion for this afternoon’s debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

  1. Notes the report of the Welsh Government’s roads review panel, The Future of Road Investment in Wales. 
  2. Regrets the lack of engagement by the roads review panel with the public, elected representatives, local authorities, businesses and the third sector and others during the course of the review.
  3. Believes that the roads review panel’s recommendations to scrap investment in critical road projects designed to improve road safety, address congestion, decrease air pollution and deliver economic benefits fails to deliver the transport infrastructure the people of Wales rightfully deserve.

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