The Welsh Labour Government published its final report of the independent Roads Review on Tuesday 14th February. The report was commissioned by Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS in June 2021 following his announcement to pause all new road schemes while the existing pipeline of schemes was reviewed.
The panel reviewed 48 road schemes being proposed across Wales and made recommendations based on the current Welsh Government policies, Net Zero Wales, Wales Transport Strategy, and Future Wales. It has determined that over sixty per cent of the proposed works are inconsistent with Welsh Government policies, including the much campaigned against Flintshire Corridor or “Red Route” locally.
Commenting after the publication of the report, Delyn MP Rob Roberts says:
“Whilst I applaud the Welsh Labour Government for taking steps to consider the impact on our climate and environment, I believe they are holding the Welsh economy back through lack of investment in our transport network, introducing unpopular road-based initiatives such as the 20mph speed limits, and hiding behind their NetZero target.
“The report published on Tuesday makes 51 recommendations in total and advises that 31 road schemes do not proceed as they are inconsistent with current Welsh government policies. While I acknowledge the panel’s expertise and recognise the work undertaken to produce this report, it’s astonishing to me that a report would be commissioned to assess schemes but not to suggest alternatives when plans are recommended to be scrapped. They are influenced far too heavily by an unachievable NetZero target; and are not practical given public behaviour and the need for cars based on our existing transport network access to public transport services and the geographic landscape of our community.
“For example, while I am pleased that the recommendations for the Flintshire Corridor (or Red Route) are for it not to go ahead, an issue that I have campaigned on along with local residents for some time, there is still a need for investment and improvement in the A55/A494 pinch points. The panel’s reason for stopping this proposal is that “the scheme would increase private car capacity and result in a mode shift from public transport to car transport”. However, it seems as though the panel have not considered the fact that the A55 is the only major road that connects the North of England to North Wales’s towns and villages, that it already suffers from heavy seasonal use which won’t disappear because of a lack of improvement, and that their preferred sustainable transport modes are currently non-existent or very poorly connected. As much as people would love to be able to hop on a bus or a train or walk to their destination, this is just not practical.
“By not recognising that car journeys remain essential in Flintshire and more widely across North Wales, the Welsh Government penalises drivers by making the lives of residents and businesses much harder and North Wales a less attractive destination for tourists. We don’t need to hamper the economy and business growth by restricting car use, especially when the car sector itself is in the process of decarbonisation. Public transport in my constituency and across North Wales is unreliable and infrequent. Shutting down road projects and not making any alternative recommendations isn’t going to drive people towards a poor service but will mean that they take their business elsewhere that is less congested.”
“Welsh Labour have been in power and have run the Welsh economy since devolution began in 1999. They need to stop flip-flopping with their policies and be decisive on the future for a better Wales. Wales’s economy is in a desperate state. Its NHS service is on its knees, our education system is failing, and our public services are underfunded and stretched beyond capacity. The Welsh Government need to stop wasting public money on writing reports that make unachievable recommendations and get a grip on what our communities are desperate for – a pro-growth, pro-business, pro-worker economy.”