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UK Gov complains about building freeze: M4 and A55 ‘are not just Welsh roads’

23 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
Simon Hart (left) by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0). Lee Waters (right) by Senedd Cymru (CC BY 2.0).

The UK Government has complained about a move to freeze all new-road building projects in Wales, by saying that the M4 and A55 are not “just Welsh roads”.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart hit out after the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters announced that the freeze would take place while a review is carried out.

The projects currently in the planning phase include a new bridge over the Menai, a new a new eight-mile stretch of dual carriageway to ease congestion on the A55 in the north-east, and the Llandeilo bypass. The latter was agreed in a deal with Plaid Cymru for the 2017-18 budget.

Emissions from transport will need to be cut by around a half if Wales is to hit its net zero ambitions by 2050.

The deputy minister, Lee Waters, said Wales had to take action to “significantly cut carbon emissions”.

In response, Hart said told The National at a lobby briefing: “I don’t think it fits with the agenda [for economic recovery] particularly comfortably.

“We are looking at ways in which we can kickstart the economy, that requires investment in road and rail.

“If we are serious about trying to ween people off the need for a foreign holiday, we need a road network that supports that, not to mention the construction jobs associated with road build projects.

“It seems like me to be putting a break on economic recovery, and it will leave one or two people feeling a little mystified.”

“We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking the M4 or A55 are just Welsh roads.

“They are as important to people on the English side of the border and they are UK wide assets. If we are not able to improve them, then we are not just impeding economic recovery in Wales, but also the rest of the UK and beyond.

“[The decision] is a pity, I’m assuming they are looking through this as net zero, but that doesn’t rely on a total freeze on road infrastructure in Wales.”

“We are just coming out of 16 months of extraordinary economic pressure, and it just feels like the wrong attitude. We should be straining every sinew to make things quicker, easier and more efficient.”

‘Net Zero’

When he announced the freeze, Lee Waters said: “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.”

In the Welsh Government’s new transport strategy published earlier this year, he said that “we need to change the way we travel. We need fewer cars on our roads, and more people using public transport, walking or cycling”.

The same report said that “emissions from surface transport must be roughly halved between 2020 and 2030 from 6 to 3 million tonnes Carbon Dioxide”.

The review will be announced in the Senedd this afternoon.

It comes after plans for a new M4 relief road passed Newport were ditched in 2019. The decision not to go ahead with the road was made by First Minister Mark Drakeford due to environmental concerns and increasing estimated costs.

Planning protection for the route was scrapped after 25 years, which means that other developments can now be built there. Highways and transport are a devolved issue, despite UK Government expressing a desire to intervene to get the road built.

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Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Hart knows that Johnson wants to claim credit for road projects in Wales, a grubby little plot to undermine the Senedd. Naturally the governor General will dance to London’s tune if he wants a retirement peerage.

Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
1 month ago

In light of rapidly falling trade flows with Ireland because of the UK government’s BREXIT debacle I think a review of large East-West link expenditure may be justified. What The Senedd should concentrate on is the Wales North-South infrastructure (including the Llandeilo bypass). A rail link between Swansea – Aberystwyth -Bangor would be interesting, the “university line”. 😂😂😂🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
29 days ago

Another skirmish in the war over sovereignty between the Welsh and UK governments, involving conflicting outlooks on what Wales represents. Hart sees this country as a useful resource (in this instance, as a staycation venue, for which he requires upgraded roads making it easier for tourists to get into Wales). He is NOT looking to improve north-south communications within Wales, and indeed it is against Westminster’s interests to develop those transport links. There’s a lot of traffic already in Wales, especially during tourism-time; Hart wants more of it. He also wants further economic integration between Wales and England through souped-up… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
29 days ago

Ho but they are just Welsh roads – when in Wales ! That is what devolution is all about. However, the Tories should keep it up ! The constant deriding of all things Welsh – will see us gain independence quicker.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
29 days ago

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. The very day Hart complains about Wales, Lord Deben said that Westminster had set historic targets on emissions reduction but has no policies to achieve them. They make 200 recommendations including that no new roads be built until they are proven not to increase emissions.
Other recommendations such as on home insulation, phasing out gas boilers anmd more are policy in Wales but not England. Wales has paused, not banned, road building as recommended by Lord Deben’s statutory advisors, why is he complaining?

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
29 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Forgot to say; Lord Deben is better known as John Selwyn Gummer, Tory environment minister and beef burger fanatic.One of their own says that Wales is right and Hart is wrong. That’s the interesting bit.

Dafydd Evans
Dafydd Evans
29 days ago

Mr ‘I think its great to be cruel to Fox’s’ – will you be staying after we gain independence? Thatcher’s control freakery pushed us to vote for devolution, Your actions and those of your handler will push us even further.

We dont want out land destroyed so you and your chums can get to Pembrokeshire 20 mins quicker!

United kingdom? Like hell it is!

Chris
Chris
29 days ago

Oh no! Are Cymru considering rotating our new roads to North South? However will they get English tourists in and Welsh resources out if we FINALLY connect our own nation?! Maybe we should withhold our HS2 money and build a decent motorway linking ourselves north and south

Last edited 29 days ago by Chris

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