Exclusive: Wales approves new roads through 'across the board' approach

28/01/2021
Rhodri Clark

The Welsh Government’s first major road scheme reappraisal against the climate emergency has backed further road building, on the basis that the increased carbon emissions will be offset by reductions elsewhere.

Planned road schemes include another road bridge over the Menai Strait and an eight-mile dual carriageway in Flintshire. However, Transport Action Network (TAN), which is challenging Highways England’s RIS2 programme on climate grounds, urged the Welsh Government to reconsider.

”Local
The Menai Bridge: Another bridge is planned over the Menai Strait

In November 2019 the Government promised to reassess dualling the A465 between Dowlais and Hirwaun, to check the scheme against the ‘climate change emergency’ it had declared seven months earlier.

Now Freedom of Information responses have revealed only a ‘qualitative’ appraisal was conducted, using the same monetary values for carbon as at the 2018 public inquiry.

Regarding the Government’s carbon reduction commitments, the appraisal says: ‘The reductions are not managed effectively by applying that same reduction to every scheme that contributes to the policy – rather it requires a cohesive approach in how the use of carbon is managed across the board, with increases in some areas offset by reductions elsewhere.

‘In this context, progressing the A465 dualling scheme remains consistent with transport’s role in meeting its contribution to the emissions reduction commitments.’

The Government admits the scheme will increase carbon emissions, mainly through increased traffic speeds and volumes.

This is one of many road schemes developed since the government declared in its 2008 transport strategy it would ‘act now’ to cut carbon emissions, numbers of trips and distances travelled. The latest draft strategy includes similar aims.

TAN director Chris Todd said: ‘It’s not enough to be talking about taking action on climate change. They’ve got to deliver it. Investing in new roads which worsen traffic, pollution and congestion is not the way forward, as their own strategies are telling them.’

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