Wales scraps major road projects due to climate concerns

Road projects in Wales have been discarded with the government citing environment concerns. So is this a win for climate campaigners?

In future, Welsh roads would try to tackle climate change and reduce congestion on the road network.

Almost three quarter of road projects have been scrapped by the Welsh government as it cited concerns about climate.

Only 15 of the 59 planned roads will now go ahead after the Welsh Government reviewed its plans for road investment and decided many were no longer consistent with their policies.

The decision has been greeted warmly by climate campaigners. “For the first time we have the climate and ecological emergency at the heart of decision making. Other home nations can learn from this,” said transport expert Chris Todd.

“We commend the Welsh Government for taking the long view, rather than short term expediency. At a time of a climate and ecological emergency we need our political leaders to stand up and be counted.”

“Internationally there is much that could be learned from Wales’ experience, particularly by its near neighbours,” said Chris.

“In England, the Department for Transport remains in denial about road building and despite not having a credible pathway to net-zero, continues to make things worse, running down public transport while increasing traffic and emissions.”

This step is a part of the National Transport Plan which will follow a year-long review where the aim is to reduce car journeys and increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport.

Road pollution affects 94% of Britain, study has revealed.

The government plans to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint to protect people and wildlife from the climate emergency. They are targeting the car mileage to go 10% per person and 39% of journeys to be by sustainable modes by the year 2030.

“The next steps in Wales will now be key,” says Welsh climate campaigner Paula Denzel from Transport Action Network. “We will have to see investment into sustainable transport alternatives and car reduction measures, particularly in the areas affected by the decisions of the roads review.

“We are only at the start of something big, but it is pretty monumental and Wales is leading the way. This may have repercussions on bigger countries that will hopefully look to Wales as an example.”

The decision has been welcomed by people but it also raises questions about how it will function.

“It is critical that this decision by the Welsh Government is backed up with proper consultation, funding, and implementation on alternate, climate-friendly solutions to the issues the proposed roads were trying to address,” Climate Cymru, a climate organisation from Wales said. 

“Critics of the Roads Review fear that it will put jobs at risk, but strategic climate action done right will strengthen our economy and our collective wellbeing,” they said.

Future for Wales

In future, roads in Wales should support modal shift and reduce carbon emissions, improve safety through small-scale changes, should not increase road capacity, not adversely affect ecologically valuable sites and provide access and connectivity to jobs and centres of economic activity in a way that supports modal shift.

David TC Davies, Welsh Conservative MP for Monmouth wrote on Twitter, “Welsh Labour Government’s roads review is taking Wales on a road to nowhere by declaring “war on motorists”.

“The decision to scrap all major road building projects in Wales a massive mistake,” he wrote.