The Welsh government has announced that planned road-building schemes in Wales have been cancelled and will not be built unless they comply with strict conditions that will not cause more emissions or cars. On Tuesday, Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters declared that all future infrastructure projects must reduce carbon emissions and support a shift to public transport, walking and cycling. This puts climate change at the heart of decision-making for transport in Wales.
The Welsh government will only consider future road investment for projects that pass strict net zero criteria, meaning they must not increase carbon emissions, increase the number of cars on the road, or lead to higher speeds. Major projects such as plans for a third Menai bridge and the Red Route in Flintshire will no longer go ahead as a result. This follows a year-long review by the Welsh Roads Review Panel, which was set up in September 2021 and led by Dr. Lynn Sloman.
Environmental and transport campaigners have welcomed the move. Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said that the Welsh Government’s Roads Review marks the most significant change in UK roads building policy over the last 20 years. Friends of the Earth Cymru director, Haf Elgar added that “we must break the cycle of building more roads for more cars—it will only create more congestion, make our air more polluted, and increase the emissions that are wrecking our climate.”
Wales’ Conservative Party Leader Andrew RT Davies has called the move “utter madness” on Twitter, saying “Labour ministers in the Senedd won’t build new roads in Wales because they’ll ‘induce demand.’ Because encouraging more visitors to Wales and money into our economy is obviously a bad thing. Utter madness.” Labour Senedd member and former Labour transport minister Ken Skates has criticised the plans and called for the matter to be devolved to North Wales. The Wales Federation of Small Businesses has also pointed to a statement by its head Ben Cottam, who said that the report “clearly has far-reaching consequences for Welsh Government’s approach to future investment in infrastructure.”
Environmentalism skeptic Ben Pile has said that “anyone who has been to Wales, knows, Wales needs roads.” He has claimed that due to net zero, the relationship between governments and people has been transformed, and that “they are putting their ideological agenda in advance of people’s needs and wants, and that’s going to hit a breaking point at some point.” He has also pointed out that some councils in Wales have seen their black bin bag collections move to a four-weekly occurrence, also because of Net Zero climate change commitments.
The Welsh government has not yet replied to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.