Welsh landmark decision on future road investment

TAN [1] has welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement today to radically change the way it makes future road investment. It places the climate and ecological emergency at the heart of decision making on infrastructure spending [2], a first for any of the home nations. The announcement comes in response to the publication of the Welsh Roads Review Panel report [3]. Addressing the Senedd this afternoon, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, set out why change was needed and the benefits it would bring [4].

TAN would like to see the same approach adopted in the other home nations, particularly in England where the Department for Transport is currently developing its third road investment strategy [5].

Chris Todd, Director of TAN said:

“This is a landmark announcement by the Welsh Government which is leading the way internationally. For the first time we have the climate and ecological emergency at the heart of decision making. Other home nations can learn from this. It would have been all too easy for the Welsh Government to continue building roads as usual, while ignoring the long term consequences. Something the Department for Transport is currently attempting to do with its road investment strategies, pretending they are not relevant to climate change.

“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. We are urging Mark Harper and the Department for Transport to follow suit and divert roads spending into public transport and active travel and improving road maintenance. Otherwise there’s a real danger they will end up making things worse, not better.”

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors:

[1]  Transport Action Network was established to support local communities press for more sustainable transport in England and Wales. This involves fighting cuts to bus services, particularly in rural areas, and opposing damaging road schemes and large unsustainable developments.

[2] Future project proposals will be subjected to four tests to determine their viability:

  1. To support modal shift and reduce carbon emissions.
  2. To improve safety through small-scale changes.
  3. To adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  4. To provide access and connectivity to jobs and centres of economic activity in a way that supports modal shift.

They will also need to be developed in a way that focuses on minimising carbon emissions, not increasing road capacity, not increasing emissions through higher vehicle speeds and not adversely affecting ecologically valuable sites.

[3] The Roads Review Panel is an independent review panel that was appointed by the Welsh Government to review 55 road building schemes that do not yet have a spade in the ground, assessing whether they fit against the Welsh Government’s climate change and decarbonisation objectives.

[4] Lee Waters SM addressed the Senedd at 2.45pm today. This can be viewed on Senedd TV:

[5] The third road investment strategy (RIS3) will run from 2025 – 2030 and comes at a critical time for reducing carbon emissions. The current roads programme, RIS2, is currently in disarray as it struggles with delayed projects, increasing opposition, spiralling costs and poor fit with wider Government objectives.


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