TAPAS.network | 20 February 2023 | Commentary | Rhodri Clark
The much-anticipated report of the Sloman review of road building in Wales, and the Welsh Government’s response to it, have been published. In a further radical step spear-headed by minister Lee Waters there will be a much reduced programme of road building and improvement to a very different set of criteria as recommended by the review panel.and look at this distinctive approach, how it was shaped and the way it will be implemented.
In the latest step in its pursuit of a radical new approach to transport policy The Welsh Government has accepted its Road Review panel Report’s recommendation that no more road schemes will be permitted in Wales which increase the demand for private car travel and net Carbon creation.
The panel, chaired by Dr Lynn Sloman recommends that in future, schemes for new road construction or that modify the form of a road should only be for one or all of four purposes:
Shifting trips to sustainable transport to reduce carbon emissions;
Reducing casualties where they are high, through smallscale changes;
Adapting roads to the impacts of climate change;
Supporting prosperity by providing access to development sites that will achieve high sustainable transport mode share.
The Panel recommends that road schemes that are consistent with current Welsh transport policy now embracing the above criteria, should also meet these four conditions:
Minimising carbon emissions in construction;
Should not increase road capacity for cars;
Should not lead to higher vehicle speeds that increase emissions;
Should not adversely affect ecologically valuable sites.
The Welsh Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters set up the Roads Review Panel to take a new look at road schemes that are under development and to make recommendations for the future of road investment in Wales. It was asked to review road schemes in the light of the Wales Transport Strategy ambitions and priorities, Programme for Government commitments and the second low carbon delivery plan, Net Zero Wales. In a politically assertive move that even surprised some of its own backbench MSs, the Labour Welsh Government declared last week that it accepted all the key recommendations of the independent Roads Review Panel.
The panel’s initial report identified 55 schemes for review. Four others were later identified, but eight were excluded for being out of scope or having insufficient information. In her foreword to the 327 page report, Sloman said the reviews of 51 individual road schemes used criteria firmly based on the ambitions, priorities and commitments in current Welsh Government policy. “In turn, our recommendations for the future of road investment build on evidence and insights from the individual scheme reviews. The challenge of our time is to achieve a prosperous economy and a fairer society whilst protecting and enhancing the environment, for our own well-being and that of future generations.”
This ‘4x4’ of purposes and conditions for future road investment should provide a first stage filter for sponsors of potential schemes, when considering whether a road scheme is justifiable and appropriate, says the Roads Review Panel. It does not remove or reduce the requirement for systematic appraisal, but will save significant abortive development work on inappropriate schemes. It will obviate the need for future retrospective exercises repeating the work of the Roads Review Panel.
Political and media reaction to the radical change of direction has unsurprisingly focused on the cancellation of 31 of the current schemes which had been paused for the review. Cancellations include the new dual carriageway between the A55 and A494 in Flintshire – which the panel said could lead to mode shift from public transport to car – and probably the Third Menai Crossing, although this is to be reassessed alongside alternatives by the North Wales Transport Commission, led by Lord Burns.
Many schemes along the A55 are recommended to be replaced by a multi-modal corridor study, as are a proposed M4 junction scheme west of Cardiff. The logic is that the individual schemes were planned in isolation, without considering their effect on other parts of the road.
A significant omission from the review and the new roads policy is the £590m dualling of the A465 between Dowlais and Hirwaun. The contract was signed shortly before the roads review and is a textbook example of everything the Welsh Government now says it should not spend money on; it basically being a way to deliver improved safety through over-engineering which increases carbon emissions and traffic speeds.
The Llandeilo bypass was also excluded from the roads review, because it was part of the deal where Plaid Cymru agreed to support Labour after the 2021 election.
For the schemes proposed by local authorities and reviewed by the panel, authorities can still apply for funding in future. However, it has been made clear to them that they will not receive funding unless the roads meet the criteria recommended by the panel, which include not increasing road capacity.
A separate piece of work is to be led by two councillors to explore how local schemes designed for economic development will fit within the new policy. The idea is to prevent a new road for an industrial estate, for example, being over-engineered and becoming a bypass or larger road which attracts other development which is contrary to Welsh Government planning policy.
At Wrexham and Cwmbran, the government wants new roads and housing developments planned in tandem, as showcases of housing areas which will not entrench car dependency.
Probably the more significant outcome of the panel’s work – to transport professionals in Wales and beyond – is the formulation of new criteria designed to ensure future road schemes help, rather than hinder, progress towards governmental targets on climate change.
On the day of publication of the report, and accompanying latest version of the government’s five-year National Transport Delivery Plan, Waters told LTT: “What any in-coming transport minister faces is an on-going pipeline of schemes that have been worked on for six or seven years where significant money has already been spent and local expectations have been created. It’s very difficult at that stage to say we’re not going ahead with a scheme.
“The system is a sausage machine which constantly produces new studies which then go to the next level, and the purpose of today was to disrupt that pipeline.
“We’ve reviewed 55 different schemes and come up with a set of metrics for future road schemes. We’ve reached a consensus on the panel and we’ve reached a consensus within government – it’s not easy to do either of those.”
He said the government would anyway not have been able to fund the 55 schemes which were reviewed, as the events of the last six months had left the Welsh Government facing an 8.1% reduction in real terms in capital budgets for 2024-25.
Sloman told LTT she was very pleased the government had responded positively to her panel’s recommendations, which were delivered to the Minister last September. “The panel has definitely done the hard graft of looking at each one of these schemes in a great deal of detail.” That had meant reading hundreds or thousands of pages of documentation for each scheme, and talking to the scheme sponsor to understand what it wanted the scheme to achieve.
She said the government had used the findings in a “serious and thoughtful way”, with each scheme considered carefully. “It hasn’t necessarily been easy for Welsh Government to deal with the rather huge amount of information that we supplied to them, but I think the process has ended in a good plan.”
Sloman said the government’s new approach on roads was aligned to the ground-breaking Wales Transport Plan, Net Zero Wales and the Programme for Government. “So this is about Welsh Government really following through on the commitments, but doing that in a very careful way.”
The Welsh Government’s change of approach on many aspects of transport is summarised in Llwybr Newydd, the 2021 Wales Transport Strategy. The strategy’s first priority is to “bring services to people in order to reduce the need to travel”. It also stressed the importance of modal shift, and set a target of 45% of journeys to be made by public transport, walking and cycling by 2040 – compared with a current estimate of 32% – and to deliver a “strategy for fair road-user charging” as part of a package to improve travel choices.
A pioneering law in Wales called the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is meanwhile a significant guiding influence on shaping transport, as in other areas of public policy-making. Interventions on transport by The Well Being Commissioner, charged with its stewardship have included producing a policy document ‘Transport fit for future generations’ in partnership with the Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England, Sustrans, and the New Economics Foundation, and input to the transport vision for Wales ‘Llwybr Newydd’.
The Net Zero Wales plan includes further targets, most notably a 10% reduction in car miles by 2030. The first interim target for modal shift is 35% of trips to be by sustainable travel modes by 2025.
For many transport professionals in the UK, Wales is where the action is right now. Across a number of fronts its transport thinking is going off in radical new directions, from embracing sustainability to improving road safety and better neighbourhood placemaking and adopting new approaches to decision making to now taking the axe to road schemes.
While the UK Government is widely regarded as not yet having addressed the contradiction between its climate change and road building commitments, the Welsh Government has grabbed that bull by the horns - nowhere more so than in the Roads Review which Waters has successfully steered through to a Cabinet endorsement.
Most of the road schemes currently in development in Wales were obviously conceived before the stretching policy commitments made in the Wales Transport Strategy in March 2021, the Programme for Government in July 2021, and Net Zero Wales in October 2021. However, the development of those schemes was out of step with the previous Wales Transport Strategy, published in 2008, which stated: “A more sustainable transport system has a vital role to play in ensuring that we live within the limits of our natural systems. This requires an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This does not rule out new infrastructure; however it means any new infrastructure should be assessed as part of the total transport solution to the identified problem.
“As reflected in the 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, difficult challenges are thrown up in seeking to reduce transport related greenhouse gas emissions, especially given the continued growth in demand for transport.”
It also said: “We are determined to put transport onto a less carbon intensive path – the pace at which this is done will be determined as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s overall policy.”
One way of looking at last week’s announcements and publications is that they – belatedly – bring Welsh policy on roads into line with the commitments the Government made 15 years ago, but overlooked when it developed the A465 dualling and other schemes. However, transport professionals elsewhere in the UK will doubtless give Waters and his Cabinet colleagues credit for finally aligning climate and roads strategies – something their own governments have yet to achieve despite having similar high-level policies on carbon reduction and making transport more sustainable.
The Sloman review’s final report says “The climate and nature emergencies have formed the backdrop to our discussions. Our terms of reference make clear that in future, Welsh Government will avoid action that increases carbon emissions from constructing, operating, maintaining, and expanding the road network, especially in the next 15 years when most vehicles in use will be powered by fossil fuels.”
Its recommendations about the consistency of 48 road schemes in relation to Welsh Government policy are based on consideration of pre-existing appraisal reports, environmental assessments, economic assessments and data analysis; discussions with scheme sponsors; and, in some cases, site visits.
Putting ‘traditional’ approaches to scheme preparation, justification and investment appraisal through a new lens and finding them wanting is arguably the most challenging outcome to transport professionals – and other governments and transport authorities, and likely to be a hot topic of discussion across the transport sector in coming months with the detail of these assessments put under other microscopes.
The panel advise that 17 schemes are consistent with the new policy direction defined in the Wales Transport Strategy and 31 are not. It also reviewed a sample of three access roads associated with land development schemes, to enable it to advise on the interaction between planning, economic development and transport infrastructure.
“In our assessments, we were struck by the significant carbon dioxide emissions from embodied carbon in the steel, concrete and other materials used in road construction,” the Sloman Review observes. “The 34 road schemes for which a preferred scheme has been costed could cause 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, just from construction.” To ‘pay back’ the 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted from construction of one medium cost road scheme, the panel found that it would be necessary for 2,700 average car drivers to give up driving for ten years. Schemes that increased road or junction capacity may meanwhile increase traffic flows. This happened in the short-term because faster journeys lead drivers to make more trips, longer trips to different destinations, or trips by car instead of by public transport or active travel. It also happened in the long-term if the increase in capacity facilitated retail, business or residential development in car-dependent locations. These induced travel demand effects, further increased carbon dioxide emissions.
The panel calculated that a single large road scheme, such as the Flintshire Corridor Improvement, may increase carbon dioxide emissions by over 400,000 tonnes as a result of induced traffic.
It said the effect of schemes that increase speeds (e.g. from 50mph to 70mph) may also be significant, potentially increasing average car emissions by around 25% as a result of lower fuel efficiency.
“Our review of individual schemes has shaped our thinking about the future for road investment in Wales,” the panel observes. “This report sets out our conclusions about what investment in road infrastructure is appropriate in future, in light of the policy direction that has been set by the Welsh Government.”
Road use as well as road building looks certain to change under the new policy with both carbon and accident reduction being key objectives in the way roads are both built, design and managed. An early precursor of this thinking came when the Welsh Government introduced 50mph limits on five sections of trunk road in June 2018, specifically to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in nearby built-up areas. When that did not work, the government deployed average speed cameras, which brought about rapid and large decreases in NO2 concentrations. The government also even funded the demolition of a row of houses in Caerphilly county borough where residents had breathed in toxic air for generations.
Net Zero Wales requires a 10% reduction in car miles in the next eight years, with the first milestone an increase of three percentage points in the use of sustainable travel modes by 2025.
How can the early targets on modal shift be met? As well as the new road building policy there is the new 20mph default speed limit for urban areas which could provide a contribution alongside road safety and neighbourhood environmental benefits.
The next few years are set to show if the Welsh Government’s ambitious and innovative policy ideas are really going to deliver fundamental change in transport.
Now the Roads Review adds further substance to the necessary policy levers. Its wide-ranging but attractively presented report makes 51 consequential detailed recommendations about strategic investment, carbon and well-being, policy themes, and technical, appraisal and delivery themes, which be of particular interest to transport professionals. Some of these key matters are set out in the panel below.
See also panels:
Rhodri Clark is a specialist transport writer based in North Wales. He has been contributing to Local Transport Today magazine since the 1990s, primarily on Welsh subjects. He appears on Welsh radio and TV to comment on transport issues.
This article was first published in LTT magazine, LTT863, 20 February 2023.
Four main themes and sets of issues identified from panel’s work
The Roads Review panel identify four main themes that have emerged from their work and discussions drawn principally from the evidence-base of the 51 schemes, their appraisal documents, and the large volume of supporting material it reviewed. They say in reviewing such a large number of schemes, some common issues and opportunities have emerged which they further discussed with scheme sponsors, stakeholders, Welsh Government officials and external expert peer reviewers of their preliminary findings.
The themes are organised into four groups:
Strategic investment themes: these set out their conclusions about what the future for road investment in Wales could look like. They suggest a much larger role for regional multimodal programmes, combined with some targeted programmes led by Welsh Government’s Transport Department and Trunk Road Agents and focussed on achieving two key aims of the Wales Transport Strategy: modal shift and safer roads.
Carbon and well-being themes: these explain their conclusions about how the aims of Net Zero Wales and the environment, economy, social and cultural well-being ambitions of the Wales Transport Strategy can best be put into practice in future scheme development.
Policy themes: these explore overlaps between roads policy and other policy areas: demand management and the efficient functioning of the road network; the needs of freight users; maintenance and asset renewal; access in rural areas; and economic development and land use planning.
Technical, appraisal and delivery themes: these identify how scheme appraisal could be done better, with more thoughtful application of the Well-being of Future Generations Act; and with traffic forecasts and value for money assessments that reflect the Wales policy landscape. This section also considers how the scheme design process can be strengthened, and the role of the transport professions and
The 51 overall recommendations emerged from these four themes.
Some of the Panel’s Key Recommendations on Future Welsh Roads Strategy
Amongst the panel’s 51 policy recommendations are:
◼ The trunk road Pinch Points and Capital Upgrades Programmes should be replaced by other types of investment programme: (Recommendations 3, 4, 5, 6, 12)
- Regional multimodal programmes to reduce car use and achieve modal shift, using the approach adopted by the South East Wales and North Wales Transport Commissions;
- A Trunk Road Modal Shift Programme focussed on achieving the sustainable transport mode share aim of the Wales Transport Strategy;
- A Trunk Road Safer Speeds and Routes Programme.
◼ Reducing speed limits on motorways and trunk A-roads should be considered to cut carbon emissions fast and compensate for embodied carbon in any new road schemes and assets to replace. (Recommendation 16)
◼ Rather than seeking to ‘upgrade’ roads to match the relevant national speed limit, there should be national and local reviews of speed limits on A, B and C roads to match the speed limit to the safe speed for the road layout. Such a review should take account of impacts on all road users, and also consider effects on noise, air quality, severance and public realm. (Recommendation 11)
◼ There should be coordination between the Department for Economy and Department for Climate Change to ensure that sites supported for economic development are in locations that can achieve a high sustainable transport mode share. This would ensure sustainable economic prosperity, and reduce the demand for more road construction. (Recommendation 22)
◼ To reduce congestion and the perceived need for new road infrastructure, Welsh Government and local authorities should work together to deliver ‘benefits-and-charges’ packages at a regional level. Charges would influence whether and when people travel, while providing a revenue stream to finance improvements in public transport, active travel infrastructure and digital accessibility. (Recommendation 27)
◼ To improve freight drivers’ well-being and safety, greater attention should be given to construction of lay-bys, parking facilities and rest areas for HGV drivers. (Recommendation 29)
◼ There should be a Zero-Base Review of road maintenance and renewal schemes, so critical schemes take place first and are not crowded out by less important schemes, as recommended by the Lugg Review. (Recommendation 31)
◼ Welsh Government should consider a pilot programme applying global best practice to manage through-traffic in rural towns and villages. This would benefit many more communities than there is funding to help through construction of bypasses. (Recommendation 34)
◼ Road scheme appraisal should use a range of traffic modelling scenarios, including a policy-consistent scenario in which car mileage per person falls nationally by 10% by 2030, in line with the Welsh Government target for traffic reduction. (Recommendation 42)
◼ To create attractive career pathways for highway engineers now delivering road space reallocation, modal shift and carbon reduction, the professional institutions and supply chain should work with Welsh Government to develop a comprehensive set of continuing professional development requirements. (Recommendation 50)
View the full report here.
End of the road: How Lee Waters has led Welsh Transport on a new political journey
An early indication of the Welsh Government’s new course on transport came in 2019 when Mark Drakeford, First Minister since December 2018, showed his hand by cancelling the M4 Relief Road at Newport in 2019. His predecessor had spoken enthusiastically about it.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change
On taking over as Welsh leader Drakeford had appointed a radical young Lee Waters as Deputy to then Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates. Following the M4 cancellation, Drakeford established the South East Wales Transport Commission, led by Lord Burns, a former senior Treasury civil servant, to recommend on alternative ways to address periodic congestion on the two-lane M4 bottleneck north of the city, which is one of Labour’s electoral strongholds.
The Conservatives smelled an opportunity and put their criticisms of the M4 cancellation at the centre of their campaigning for the 2021 Senedd election. But the result was, if anything, an endorsement of Drakeford’s decision. Labour gained one seat in South Wales to take precisely half of the 60 Senedd seats, demonstrating that what might appear to be electorally damaging – judging by voluble sources such as social media – may be of little concern to the electorate as a whole, or even supported by a rather quieter majority.
After the elections in May 2021 Skates left the government as a minister, and in a departmental reorganisation that moved transport from an economic to a climate change responsibility, Waters was appointed Deputy Minister for Climate Change under Julie James, with transport being his main portfolio.
Much of the detailed policy intervention since then has been directly steered by Waters. A former TV political correspondent, he entered the Senedd as Labour MS for Llanelli in 2016. He was national director of Sustrans Cymru when the charity persuaded the government to promote the Active Travel (Wales) Bill 2013. This became the first legislation in the world to require all local authorities to plan and progressively implement walking and cycling networks.
The Welsh Conservatives are also sure to be critical of the latest move to do things differently. But so are some of the Welsh Labour Senedd members - including Skates. The former transport minister criticised the Welsh government for cancelling all major road projects. Skates said the roads review stopped most investment in roads without putting in place plans for improving public transport. The backbencher said there should never be another review that “ignores citizens” whilst Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said it was “worth listening” to what previous ministers had to say.
Loud criticisms from some members of the public and councillors can also be expected as local authorities go through the process of adjusting to the new roads policy.
It has arrived just as changes are anyway about to be introduced to the traditional economic analysis of schemes in which journey time savings have long been highly important. Waters regarded this as perverse when seeking to introduce 20mph limits in all urban areas and so the Government last year tabled an update to its Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) so that appraisals will present two Benefit:Cost Ratios, with and without the value of time monetised. The new WelTAG introduces other significant changes in support of the Welsh Government’s new priorities for investment, including addressing climate change.
The Roads Review Panel set up by Waters has meanwhile been led by Dr Lynn Sloman, a familiar equally radical thinker in UK transport circles. Its first two reports, fast tracked at the government’s request and published last year, ruffled feathers because they recommended cancelling long-planned schemes in North Wales and implementing alternative measures which would be less environmentally harmful. In response Lord Burns was asked to chair a North Wales Transport Commission, which is now exploring alternatives to road building in the region, though there is no guarantee that any of the funding which would have gone to the cancelled road schemes will be available for alternatives. An interim report published earlier this year indicates that major roads upgrades will not be part of that plan.
Although Sloman’s work with the review has finished, she co-chairs the Burns Delivery Board, which monitors implementation of the South East Wales Transport Commission’s recommendations and will take the lead on delivery of some aspects. Sloman was a member of that commission.
Now the government has finally published the Sloman the panel’s final report, which ministers received in the summer – an act that must have taken some political nerve. Engineering acceptance of the report by his Cabinet colleagues is another big policy coup for Waters.
It fell to him last week to face down the many critics and explain, as he has done many times already, that the government’s priority is to spend on maintaining and renewing the existing road assets rather than adding to the network. Waters has also said the funding released will enable more investment in making public transport and active travel attractive and viable alternatives to the private car, though in these cash strapped times there is no sign of that yet in many areas of Wales.
In an interview with LTT magazine in 2021, Waters said the government was involved in a “20-year change project”, referring to the timeframes it may take for the public, politicians and highways professionals to adjust to innovations on road building, the 20mph limit and promoting active travel, for example. He now has the task of bringing national political leaders, highways professionals and local authority members – and seemingly some of the government’s own MSs – round to the Welsh Government’s new way of thinking about roads
The Welsh Government’s Official Response
As the Roads Review panel report was published, the Welsh Government issued its formal response.
“We have considered our response to the Roads Review in light of the deteriorating fiscal and economic situation.
The Welsh Government has carefully considered the panel’s advice and recommendations in line with Llwybr Newydd, the Wales Transport Strategy, which sets out a vision for an accessible, sustainable and efficient transport system that:
contributes to a more equal Wales and to a healthier Wales, that everyone has the confidence to use.
delivers a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, maintains biodiversity and enhances ecosystem resilience, and reduces waste.
contributes to our wider economic ambitions, and helps local communities, supports a more sustainable supply chain, uses the latest innovations and addresses transport affordability.
supports the Welsh language, enables more people to use sustainable transport to get to arts, sport and cultural activities, and protects and enhances the historic environment.
The Welsh Government has also considered alignment with Net Zero Wales, Future Wales – the National Plan, and the Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission. Cross-government discussions have also taken place to ensure the way forward considers impacts across all our wellbeing goals. The Welsh Government accepts the core principles and new approach set out in the panel’s report.
Future road building tests
Taking the Roads Review, wider policy objectives and context into account, the Welsh Government recognises the role of roads investment in supporting the ‘wellbeing economy’ – which drives prosperity, is environmentally sound, and helps everyone realise their potential.
All new roads need to contribute towards achieving modal shift – both to tackle climate change and to reduce congestion on the road network for freight. We are developing a Freight Plan which will explore options for modal shift for freight as it often currently impractical to use sustainable modes. As a result, the Welsh Government will continue to consider road investment in roads (both new and existing) in the following circumstances:
1 To support modal shift and reduce carbon emissions. This is about ensuring that future roads investment does not simply increase the demand for private car travel. Instead, we need to deliver schemes that contribute meaningfully to modal shift, which will require different approaches in different parts of Wales.
2 To improve safety through small-scale changes. Safety on the road network must be paramount. Investments for safety should focus on specific safety issues to be addressed (rather than wider road improvements and increases in road capacity). Speed limits should be considered as one of the primary tools for improving safety.
3 To adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is already having an impact on our road network and is likely to become an increasing issue in future decades. Road investment can be justified to adapt for these circumstances to ensure roads can continue to function and contribute meaningfully to modal shift.
4 To provide access and connectivity to jobs and centres of economic activity in a way that supports modal shift. In particular, new and existing access roads will be necessary to connect new developments, including Freeports, to the existing network. The location of new developments needs to be consistent with Future Wales / PPW11, which includes the principle of maximising the opportunity of access by sustainable means and should be designed to prevent ‘rat-running’.
In developing schemes, the focus should be on minimising carbon emissions, not increasing road capacity, not increasing emissions through higher vehicle speeds and not adversely affecting ecologically valuable sites.
We will consider these tests alongside our commitments in the Well-being of Future Generations Act through our transport plans which set out the policies, funding and schemes we will develop to deliver Llwybr Newydd, the Wales Transport Strategy.
Welsh Government funded schemes
The Roads Review panel report provides specific recommendations on the pipeline of Welsh Government supported road schemes. Welsh Government will not be responding to the recommendations on an individual basis. The failure of the UK Government to provide additional capital for investment in public infrastructure projects just as the UK economy enters recession, places limitations on the number of roads schemes which can be progressed. The schemes which can be taken forward are set out in the National Transport Delivery Plan. The development of other schemes will be considered in future funding rounds, subject to meeting the agreed tests for future road building and our commitments in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
A small sample of three land development schemes (Celtic Business Park, Fishguard, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Warren Hall, Flintshire) were reviewed due to Welsh Government involvement via land ownership or funding. Whilst some comments are made on these developments, the Panel does not make recommendations on whether or not these individual schemes should proceed. Instead, this sample has been used to inform the Panel’s advice on future road investment. To aid implementation of these and other economic development schemes, we have asked Councillor Anthony Hunt and Councillor Llinos Medi to lead a group to develop guidance on delivering place based economic development enabled by transport solutions that support the growth of a prosperous, green, and equal economy and are consistent with the future tests for road building and the Wales Transport Strategy.
Our transport system is one of the most important national assets we have. It connects people to one another, binds communities together and enables businesses to grow and expand for provision of a vibrant economy. It’s one of the most powerful and dynamic tools for community cohesion, social justice and inclusive economic growth that we possess. Of course, we will still invest in roads: we will still need to provide connections to support sustainable social and economic development, but this must be consistent with Welsh Government policy to prioritise public transport and active travel as well as support decarbonisation, modal shift and improve safety, recognising that needs vary across different parts of Wales.
Reducing and re-prioritising our investment on new road schemes and increasing our investment in sustainable modes will assist modal shift, but it will also deliver wider benefits. These include less air pollution, more successful town and neighbourhood centres and a transport system that is accessible and fair for all. We recognise that this is a big and difficult change, that it won’t happen overnight, and it requires us to work collaboratively, across government and beyond.
View the government response.
Rhodri Clark is a specialist transport writer based in North Wales. He has been contributing to Local Transport Today magazine since the 1990s, primarily on Welsh subjects. He appears on Welsh radio and TV to comment on transport issues.
This article was first published in LTT magazine, LTT863, 20 February 2023.