Roads review: Welsh Government delay, change or scrap all projects in bid to reduce carbon emissions

Nearly all road-building projects in Wales have been delayed, changed or scrapped altogether as the Welsh Government sets out a transport plan that aims to reduce carbon emissions.

The Welsh Government says it “puts climate change at the heart of decision-making”, but political opponents say it’s “anti-car” and will harm the economy of Wales.

A total of 59 road-building schemes have been on hold since June 2021 when the Welsh Government announced that they would all be reviewed to see if they still represented value for money and met climate change targets.

The report of the review panel, headed by transport expert Dr Lynn Sloman, has today been published alongside the decisions taken by the Welsh Government.

The deputy minister for climate change said the government was "raising the bar for when new roads are the right response to transport problems."

Any future road project proposals will have stricter criteria which will be focused on minimising carbon emissions, not increasing road capacity or emissions through higher speeds, and not negatively affecting the environment.

Just 15 projects are going ahead in the form they were originally planned:

  • A487 Fishguard to Cardigan

  • A4076 Haverfordwest

  • A4042 Southern Corridor Pontypool to M4

  • A494 Lon Fawr Rhuthun/Corwen Road

  • A494 MaesgammeddRoad Junction

  • A48 Cross Hands to Pensarn

  • A48 Nantycaws Junction Improvement

  • A44 Llangurig to Aberystwyth

  • A487 Dorglwyd CominsCoch

  • A40 Millbrook Farm, Brecon

  • A470 Caersws

  • A487 Rhiwstaerdywyll

  • A487 Llwyn Mafon

  • A40 Carmarthen to St Clears Corridor

  • A40 Carmarthen to Llandeilo Corridor

Nine are being scrapped altogether:

  • A470 Alltmawr (Chapel House Farm)

  • A5/ A483 Halton Roundabout

  • Chester-Broughton Growth Corridor (North Wales)

  • Mid Wales Safety Schemes: A470 Llangurig, A470 Llanidloes, A470 Pont y Bat (Felinfach), A487 Llanrhystyd, A487

  • Machynlleth, A487 North of Aberarth

A planned Llanbedr bypass was cancelled in November 2021.

Two schemes are being radically altered as the plan to build a third bridge across the Menai Straits has been axed. Instead, more sustainable ways of crossing from the mainland to Anglesey are being looked at.

It comes after the Menai Suspension Bridge, one of only two route links between Wales and the Isle, was closed suddenly in October 2022 due to a "structural issue" involving the brittle hangers.

Environmental groups have welcomed the news. "It would have been all too easy to continue building roads as usual. Yet for the first time we have a Government within the UK that is prepared to do what’s best for future generations", Paula Renzel, Welsh roads and climate campaigner for TAN Cymru said.

In addition, proposals to improve the A483 Wrexham Bypass at Junctions 3- 6 have also been dropped in favour of a new project to look at more environmentally-friendly improvements.

A total of 15 schemes are to be replaced with new projects to look at alternatives to building roads:

  • A55, A494 and other SRN routes

  • A494 Aston Hill 

  • M4 

  • A55 At-grade crossing review*

  • A55 Slow-moving vehicle overtaking restrictions*

  • A55 / A494 Network Resilience Study

  • A55 Junctions 15 and 16

  • A55 Junction 23 to 24 Corridor Study

  • A55 Junction 24 to 29 Corridor Study*

  • A55 Junctions 29-33b

  • A55 Junctions 32-33

  • A55 Junction 30 to 32a Corridor Study*

  • Flintshire Corridor Improvement

  • A55 J33b Ewloe to A494 Queensferry interchange corridor study

  • M4 Junctions 32-35 and A470 Coryton to Merthyr

  • M4 J35-38 Bridgend

  • M4 J38-43 Port Talbot

  • M4 J43-47 Swansea

A further 15 local authority schemes are being delayed in order to be reassessed in future funding rounds.

Mark Tami Alyn and Deeside Labour MP said: "These announcements today are incredibly disappointing. My issue in supporting the red route was to improve air quality for people living in Aston Hill.

He also questioned what locals are supposed to do when public transport is so bad. 

“How’s the shift going to happen if public transport isn’t there”?, he said.

Speaking in the Senedd, the deputy minister Lee Waters said: "When we published the Wales Transport Strategy two years ago, we committed to start upon a llwybr newydd - a new path. The publication of this Roads Review, along with the National Transport Delivery Plan, and our new Roads Policy Statement, represents a major step forward on that journey.

"Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads. In fact, we are building new roads as I speak - but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems. We are also investing in real alternatives, including investment in rail, bus, walking and cycling projects."

Commenting on the conclusion of the long-awaited road review, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS said: “Once again, we have no time frames, no targets and no funding from this Labour Government.  The mystery, mayhem and chaos surrounding Labour’s plan for infrastructure hasn’t gone away with many people left confused as to the future of many projects across Wales.

“To make matters worse, the alternatives that Labour ministers are proposing are little more than a series of sticking plasters devoid of the real change that the people of Wales are crying out for.

“Labour must provide more clarity as to the future of infrastructure in Wales, provide meaningful improvements and stop simply kicking the economic prospects of businesses in Wales into the long grass.”