Welsh Government road freeze ‘nonsense logic’ says Welsh Secretary Simon Hart
The Secretary of State for Wales has accused the Welsh Government of using “nonsense logic” after their decision to impose a blanket freeze on major road projects.
Lee Waters MS, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, announced a freeze on all new road-building projects in Wales last month while a review is carried out by the Welsh Government.
Simon Hart MP was visiting Montgomeryshire with Conservative MP Craig Williams when he made the comments while speaking with My Welshpool.
“I remember it being a problem when I lived in the area 25 years ago, so this [the bypass] has been a long time coming,” he said, referring to the Llanymynech-Pant Bypass which is one of the projects put on hold.
“I think what is really confusing, and quite frustrating, is the fact that we are not going to solve the climate change problem just by making our roads worse. That’s a nonsense logic.
“Of course our economy depends on good roads, good connectivity, particularly cross-border.
“This, to me, seems like a crazy project to bin at this stage because this is an English-Welsh project that joins the two economies together in a really positive way.
“There is no obvious reason why this should be paused. And the idea that somehow there might be some sort of climate change advantage from doing that, I’m afraid, is not being met by anyone from the local community or businesses that depend on this road.”
Announcing the freeze last month, 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.”
Speaking later in the Senedd, he said that the Senedd was going to have to face up to the problem of poor 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,” he said.
“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.”