North Wales gets the transport commission treatment

The Welsh Government has announced a new commission that will develop a pipeline of transport schemes for North Wales.

The North Wales Transport Commission, announced today by the deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters, follows the model of the commission set-up after the cancellation of the M4 relief road in South East Wales.

It will also be led by Lord Terry Burns, former permanent secretary at the Treasury.

The A55 North Wales Expressway at Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Officials said the announcement followed the Welsh Government’s Roads Review Panel’s advice to cancel the planned A55 Junction 14/15 and 16/16A improvements scheme, which ministers have agreed.

It also follows the recommendation in UK Government’s recent Union Connectivity Review for a ‘multi-modal’ review of the A55 corridor.

The review is expected to take a year and will develop recommendations for road, rail, bus and active travel across the whole of North Wales.

Mr Waters said the announcement ‘does not mean the end of road building, but it does mean a greater emphasis on looking after the roads we already have as well as investing in alternatives to give people a real choice’.

He said: ‘If we are serious about facing up to the climate emergency, we have to be willing to do things differently, and critically to give people across north Wales genuine alternatives to using their cars for most journeys.

‘As well as looking at the A55 corridor, the Commission will also look at how we can improve sustainable transport options in rural areas. This will need a shift of investment towards public transport and I’m very pleased Lord Burns has agreed to lead a panel of local experts to set out a detailed list of projects that will be needed to make this a reality.’

Officials said it has also now been agreed which further schemes the Roads Review Panel will consider as part of their final report due this summer. An updated list of schemes to be considered can be found here.

Paula Renzel, Welsh roads and climate campaigner for Transport Action Network Cymru, said: ‘It is great that the Welsh Government, and in particular the deputy minister for climate change, is committed to urgent and meaningful action on climate change. Surface transport emissions are the third biggest source of emissions in Wales yet there has been virtually no reduction since 1990.

‘A roads review is long overdue and we’re pleased to see the progress being made. The long list of road schemes that will be assessed shows how critical this is. If these were to be built, traffic and emissions would rise and fix us on the wrong path for tackling climate change.

‘We particularly welcome the halting of work on the A55 alongside the establishment of a North Wales transport commission. It demonstrates that the Welsh Government are committed to working with local communities to find sustainable solutions.'

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