Welsh minister proposes transport alliance with Scotland and Northern Ireland
Welsh Government minister Lee Waters has suggested that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should form a transport alliance that excludes England.
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change says the devolved nations have more in common with each other on policy than they do the Department for Transport in England.
He said that the UK Government’s transport and climate approach ‘lacks coherence and credibility’ and criticised Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for a belief in technology solutions and ‘hyper mobility’.
Speaking to Local Transport Today, he said: “We have far more in common with each other than we have in common with the Department for Transport in England, increasingly.
“We have quarterly meetings. We’re looking at commissioning some joint work together, studies on remote working for example.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for an alliance of devolved governments to develop a coherent transport policy, given that the DfT seems off on its own, ignoring the tough choices the climate change targets present to us all.”
One of the tough choices recently made by the Welsh Government has been putting a freeze on existing road schemes, pending an assessment by the Roads Review Panel.
The Llanelli MS said that it’s more than a temporary block on existing projects and it could mean the ‘end of the road’ for any future bypasses.
“The real importance of the roads review is not for schemes currently on blocks, it’s for all future road schemes. That’s where I think its potential radicalness lies”, he states.
“We could be seeing the last batch of bypasses, depending what the panel recommends. If they come forward with a set of proposals that ‘in future, we don’t think a blanket approach to congestion in towns is to build a bypass’, that would be a significant departure.”
Lee Waters also talks about the battle to win ‘hearts and minds’ over the move to make 20mph speed limits the national default for built-up areas.
The Welsh Government is currently carrying out a consultation on the change with a target to implement the reduced limits by April 2023.
He said: “This is not going to be a big bang approach. I don’t expect us to achieve 20mph straight away. It will be a process over time of changing behaviours”.
He said that speed cameras and imposing fines were unlikely to prove effective and suggests more long term approaches.
One idea proposed is for public sector vehicles to start observing the strict 20mph limit so they act as ‘pace cars’, causing a ‘ripple effect’ on traffic speeds.