According to the former Labour transport minister, the Welsh roads review disregarded citizens

Skates, Ken

The Welsh government was criticized after it canceled all major road projects by a former Labour transport minister.

Ken Skates claimed that the roads review stopped the majority of road investment without putting forward any plans to enhance public transportation.

Never again, the backbencher argued, should a review "ignore citizens.".

Ministers would collaborate with local authorities to enhance air quality, according to Lee Waters, deputy minister of transportation.

Following a year-long review, the Welsh government was publicly criticized by some Labour backbenchers after the announcement.

Tuesday, Mr. Waters defended the choice, stating that Wales would not reach net-zero carbon emissions "unless we stop doing the same thing over and over.".

He said, "None of this is simple, but neither is the alternative.

The transport consultant Lynn Sloman served as chair of the expert review panel that evaluated 59 road projects and recommended which ones should be carried out, which ones should be scrapped, and which ones should be given another look.

Only 15 of these will proceed; the rest have either been rejected or will be significantly revised.

Until shortly after the most recent Senedd election in 2021, Mr. Skates oversaw transportation policy as the minister of the economy.

The MP for Clwyd South told BBC Wales: "We should never conduct another review that ignores citizens and results in essentially no engagement with important people and public representatives. ".

The A483 near Wrexham junction improvements were one of the projects shelved.

He claims that the A483 project was "planned to remove the traffic from those local roads that were polluting the air and [that] are damaging the environment due to sky-high carbon emissions.".

"As far as I know, I'm concerned that the panel didn't actually interact with any communities. It didn't interact with the locally elected officials. Poor communication was had with council highways officers.

"What we had was a diktat that basically said that a decision had been made 140 miles away, that crucial infrastructure work would not proceed, and by the way, there are no other options that we can share with you right now. ".

Ken Skates
In his own words, Ken Skates, he "would have made sure that we collaborate with councils.".

Mr. Waters stated that ministers would continue to collaborate with the local authority to find a solution to the area's air quality issues in response to Mr. Skates' concerns about the A483 in the Senedd on Tuesday.

But he continued: "Building more road capacity has repeatedly been shown to increase traffic, which has the overall effect of deteriorating air quality and harming the climate.

"I understand that sometimes these are difficult trade-offs, and we all have to take into account the needs of our local constituencies—he is not the only one who has these concerns. Nevertheless, we must be ready to implement the policies we've outlined. ".

We all want to hit net-zero targets, according to Mr. Skates. You must, however, make sure to have company in order to accomplish this.

"You must offer a substitute if you want people to avoid driving.

"What we had was a road review that, for the most part, effectively stopped road investment without a parallel plan or an advanced plan for enhancing bus, rail, or active travel. ".

  • Wales reached a traffic peak of 19 billion vehicle miles in 2019, and after a significant drop due to the pandemic, it recovered to 16.5 billion miles in 2021.
  • The biggest increase in traffic was on the M4 close to Swansea, where between junctions 36 and 35, traffic levels have increased by almost 39% in the past 20 years.
  • With an average of 65,500 vehicles traveling north on the A494 near Ewloe in Flintshire each day, up 29 percent over the previous 20 years, it is the third busiest A-road in Wales.
  • In Wales, nearly 84 percent of the roughly one million daily commuters use a car or a motorcycle.
  • The greatest percentages of Cardiff residents commute to work via bus, train, or bicycle.

He demanded that joint council committees in north Wales be given control over the region's trunk road systems.

When asked about the implications for Cardiff Airport, seaports, and ferry services, Mr. Skates said he would have conducted the review in a different way if he had been the minister.

"I would have ensured that we collaborate with councils, with communities, we collaborate with as many people as possible, and we don't just rely on the expertise of a few," the author said. ".

According to the Welsh government, all future roads must meet strict requirements, including not increasing carbon emissions, the number of vehicles on the road, speeding up emissions, or having a negative impact on the environment.

The contentious "red route" in Flintshire, which won't proceed as intended, is one of the projects that was shelved. The A494 at Aston Hill will be improved in its place.

Environmental activists described the choice as "world leading and brave.".

According to Christine Boston of the cycling organization Sustrans Cymru, "Bold action is needed to address the climate emergency.

Because this is such a positive step, many individuals and organizations are celebrating.

"Over the years, the public has actively participated in the development of the future generations act, and this decision is entirely consistent with that. Net zero is the priority. ".

graph showing traffic volume at key road areas in Wales

Business organizations are worried, though.

Former CBI Wales chairman Mike Plaut claimed that the choice gave the impression that Wales was "closed for business.".

A prosperous Wales is one of the goals of the Future Generations Act, and this, he said, "seems to take us in the opposite direction.".

"We need to work on solutions that help jobs while not hurting the Welsh economy.

We run the risk of declining economically. ".

Ben Cottom, the president of the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, continued, "Areas of Wales urgently require improvement of existing infrastructure, as well as the assurance of resilience of future infrastructure.

. "

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