'An accident waiting to happen': The sixty-year campaign by Llanbedr residents for a bypass

It has been a long and winding road for residents in Llanbedr, Gwynedd.

They have been campaigning for a £14m bypass to take traffic away from their village for more than 60 years. 

The road was an early casualty when the Welsh Government axed it in 2021 over climate fears. 

Since then a road review has been carried out throughout Wales but the one-mile road remains off the table.

It comes 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.

While the news has been welcomed by environmental groups, opposition politicians have claimed the government is "anti-car".

Victoria Ireland cleans properties in the village. She says it can be difficult with the traffic.

Councillor Annwen Hughes represents Llanbedr and Harlech on Gwynedd Council.

She said: “It’s been rumbling on for many years now - the first one was 1953 and then 92 and then now and we were so close to getting it started."

When Labour MS and Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Walters announced it would not go ahead in 2021 after a panel of transport and environmental experts visited Llanbedr, their conclusion was that it "does not align well with the new Welsh Government transport and climate policy."

Upon hearing the news, Cllr Hughes said it was “a big shock”.

She added: “Everything was in place - the funding etc was in place and Gwynedd had done such hard work preparing everything it was literally a kick in the teeth because the village is not catered for big transport and big lorries and in the summer it’s ten fold but this time of year there’s very heavy traffic…and the bridge is far too narrow it’s an accident waiting to happen on the bridge.”

Local resident Jane Taylor Williams said “road rage” is increasing as people get impatient in traffic.

“It causes stand stills for maybe an hour at a time, road rage is on the up and also the children can’t go to school safely…the elderly can’t walk down to the paper shop or to the local grocery store but it also affects us in the winter as well in the fact that when we have deliveries more large vehicles come in so it affects us all year round”.

Victoria Ireland cleans properties in the village. She says it can be difficult with the traffic.

“In the summer it’s absolutely insane with the traffic. We’ve been here and it’s been absolutely gridlocked, massively gridlocked and it’s carnage.”

It makes their job “massively difficult". She said a bypass would be “amazing” and “a massive help”.

Cllr Hughes says the bridge is "far too narrow" to cope with "very heavy traffic".

Eirwyn Thomas, Chair of Llanbedr community council, says the north is losing out.

He said: “Everything seems to be going down south….it would be nice to know what objections they’ve got against north Wales”.

The projects across Wales were paused ahead of a review as ministers want to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and push people onto public transport and away from roads.

Jane Taylor Williams said there is a lot more to think about: “I think we can all say that we want to be environmentally friendly and have environmental issues that perhaps need addressing but also we need to live."

Cllr Hughes agrees. “I understand fully with emissions but what’s better - for cars to be going along a bypass doing 40- and everyone is willing to be doing 40 or cars stuck in a traffic jam for over three quarters of an hour and I’ve been in one of those many a time myself with the engines running. 

"Which is more environmental, the car going along happily or being stuck? There’s more emissions being let out then and because of that reason people living along the side of the road can’t even open their windows on a hot summer day.”

Locals claim it is difficult to get a bus in the village.

Mr Eirwyn Thomas said: “There’s been a park and ride service from Barmouth but it’s just not possible when you’ve got something like 3 thousand people coming in to camp on Shell Island in the summer. 

"How would you get those on a park and ride?”.

The Welsh Government may be convinced the road won’t happen but it is not the end of the line for locals. They have organised a protest for next month.

On 24 March, residents are being encouraged to walk through the village to show their disappointment in the decision. 

Following Tuesday's announcement, the government's deputy minister for climate change said the government was "raising the bar for when new roads are the right response to transport problems."

Deputy Minister for Transport, Lee Waters tore up virtually all road-building schemes that were in progress. Credit: ITV News

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."