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Written Statement  - Freight: Wales Freight Task and Finish Group 

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport 

I have received the report of the Wales Freight Task & Finish Group which can be found online.

I would like to thank the Chair of the Group, Brian Curtis, and all the members for their input.

As set out in my statement of 18 July 2013 announcing the setting up of the Group, I consider sustainable freight networks to be a major factor in all successful modern economies and that it is important to integrate them fully in developing the transport planning framework for Wales for the future.

The Task & Finish Group’s remit was to advise me on strategic issues affecting freight transport in the light of my wider economic development priorities, and to focus on key interventions needed to support the development of Enterprise Zones and commercial and business centres more widely.

I welcome the  report, which is inclusive, strategic and comprehensive.

I note the important, contextual link that the report makes to the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) in Wales. This aligns with the approach I am taking to TEN-T and my commitment to maximise opportunities for funding and investment for Wales under the new TEN-T arrangements.

The report makes twenty four recommendations in total, covering rail, roads and ports, and land use planning.

I accept the recommendations that fall to my portfolio and I have asked my officials to develop an implementation plan.

Recommendations K and L relate to the Severn Crossings.  I am accepting these recommendations in principle because further consideration might be required depending on whether the Crossings come into our ownership..

I am also accepting Recommendation X in principle, which relates to supporting the re-introduction of load on-load off container freight through Holyhead port if opportunities were to arise in the future. I would need to consider the exact nature of any support when or if the opportunities arose.

Two of the recommendations, A and B, relate to land use planning, and I have written to the Minister for Housing and Regeneration asking him to consider them.

I shall provide an update on progress later in the year.