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Foreword

We were asked by the Deputy Minister for Climate Change in September 2021 to come together as a Roads Review Panel, to make recommendations in relation to road schemes currently in the pipeline and to advise on when new roads are the right solutions for transport problems.

Making decisions about where investment should be spent to help achieve policy goals, and providing guidance on when road schemes are appropriate or not, is a very challenging task.

This is all the more so because of the urgent action that is required to respond to the climate emergency, as was clear from the recent COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Decisions made by policy-makers this decade, affecting transport patterns between now and 2030, will affect whether the world stays within safe levels of global heating, or breaches those limits.

But road schemes have a long development history and there may be complex interrelationships with the rural and urban communities and regions of Wales. 

We fully appreciate the importance of going through a careful and robust thought-process to arrive at recommendations. Our Initial Report sets out how the Panel is addressing this challenge. 

Dr Lynn Sloman MBE, Chair of the Roads Review Panel.

1. Introduction

1.1 Context for the review

On 22 June 2021, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, announced in a statement to the Senedd that there would be a pause on all new road schemes while the existing pipeline of schemes is reviewed.

The context for the review is that Welsh Government, and many local authorities in Wales, have declared a climate emergency. Welsh Government has recently published Net Zero Wales Carbon Budget 2 (October 2021), which identifies the need to reduce CO2 emissions across the whole economy by 63% by 2030. In the transport sector, Net Zero Wales sets an aim to reduce the number of car miles travelled per person by 10% by 2030 (from 2019), and to increase the proportion of trips by sustainable modes (public transport and active travel) to 35% by 2025 and 39% by 2030. Transport emissions accounted for 17% of Welsh CO2 emissions and had declined by only 6% against the 1990 baseline in 2019, highlighting that meeting targets will be very challenging.

Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy (March 2021), sets out how Welsh Government plans to reduce the number of journeys taken by private cars and increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport. It adopts a Sustainable Transport Hierarchy to guide decisions on investment in infrastructure, which prioritises walking and cycling, then public transport, then ultra-low emission vehicles, and finally other private motor vehicles.

Planning policy, as set out in Future Wales (February 2021), sets an aim for people to live in places where travel has low environmental impact and low emissions, with reduced reliance on private vehicles.

Most of the road schemes currently in development in Wales were conceived before the adoption of Net Zero Wales, Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy and Future Wales.

The Roads Review is intended to examine the current pipeline of road investment by Welsh Government to assess whether it is aligned with these new policies. The review is also informed by the goals in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

1.2 Panel members

The following members were appointed to the Roads Review Panel on 15 September 2021:

  • Dr Lynn Sloman MBE (Chair)
  • Julie Hunt
  • Professor Glenn Lyons
  • Geoff Ogden
  • Professor John Parkin
  • Professor Andrew Potter
  • Dr Eurgain Powell
  • Helen Pye

The Panel combines expertise in transport policy as it relates to climate change; delivery of highways engineering projects; freight logistics; transport planning and future mobility; and public engagement. It includes members from North, Mid, South West and South East Wales, and from both urban and rural areas. See: Members of the Roads Review Panel.

The Panel is supported by a small Secretariat of Welsh Government officials and Transport for Wales staff and by technical specialists Arcadis.

1.3 Objectives and terms of reference for the review

The objectives of the Roads Review may be summarised as:

  • to ensure road investment is fully aligned to the delivery of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy ambitions and priorities, Welsh Government Programme for Government commitments and Net Zero Wales
  • to develop a set of criteria which identify appropriate circumstances for expenditure of Welsh Government funds on roads
  • to use these criteria to recommend which of the current road projects should be supported, modified, or have support withdrawn
  • to provide guidance on reallocating road space on parts of the road network which might in future benefit from enhancement
  • to consider how any savings might be allocated, in order to ensure problems on the road network are addressed, and in particular to make recommendations on how to tackle the backlog of road maintenance.

Going forward the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG), which is currently being reviewed, will ensure that all transport projects are aligned to the delivery of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy  ambitions and priorities.

The Terms of Reference set out that, in future, in accordance with Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy, the priority and focus for road investment will be on:

  • the avoidance of action which leads to increases in carbon emissions from operating, maintaining and improving the road network, especially in the next 15 years when most vehicles in use will still be powered by fossil fuels
  • the reallocation of existing road space to achieve a shift to sustainable and accessible forms of transport
  • the adaptation of existing road infrastructure to cope with climate change
  • investment which maintains the safety and serviceability of the existing road network in compliance with statutory duties, and
  • the improvement of biodiversity alongside major transport routes.

1.4 Status and contents of this report

The Terms of Reference require the Roads Review Panel to produce an initial report within 3 months of its appointment, setting out how it proposes conducting the Review and the proposed road investment that it considers to be in scope according to the Terms of Reference, for Ministers’ approval. This report fulfils that requirement.

The report contents are as follows:

The Terms of Reference also require the Roads Review Panel to provide the Final Report to Ministers setting out the findings of the Review within 9 months of the appointment.

2. Scope of the Review

​​​​​​2.1 Rationale for schemes scoped in or out

The Welsh Ministers wish this Review to be as broad an exercise as reasonably possible so that it develops criteria that are helpful for shaping future schemes and supporting updates to WelTAG. The general scope of the Review is to include all proposed road investment, whether funded directly by Welsh Government on the Strategic Road Network or indirectly on the Local Road Network, subject to the following:

  1. routine operational and maintenance work to ensure the safety and serviceability of the Strategic Road Network will continue during the period of the Review. All statutory duties and existing contractual obligations will continue to be adhered to;
  2. schemes funded in whole or part by Welsh Government where construction work is too advanced to cease will be out of the scope of the review; and
  3. access roads with the primary purpose of linking a site or premises for heavy industry to the public highway, or within the boundary of a heavy industry development site, will be excluded from the Review. Access roads with the primary purpose of serving residential, retail and light office / light industrial developments should be paused at the next decision gateway to allow them to be considered by the review Panel.

To identify schemes within the scope of the Review, the Review Secretariat first identified road investment funded directly from Welsh Government’s Transport divisions. Information was gathered about projects on the Strategic Road Network and local authority-led projects funded through the Local Transport Fund and Resilient Roads Fund. Projects were considered by the Panel to be outside the scope of the Review if one or more of the following reasons was met:

  • construction is advanced or contractually committed.
  • the project involves public transport or active travel only and private vehicle capacity is not increased.
  • investment is solely for the purposes of air quality or noise mitigation, or community safety and speed management.
  • investment is for preliminary investigations into issues on the Strategic Road Network, with no scheme yet defined.
  • Ministers have already made a specific statement that the project would not be subject to the Review.

If, during the course of the Roads Review, any schemes emerge from preliminary investigations on the Strategic Road Network, the Panel intends to consider whether these should be included in its review and will provide advice as necessary.

The Review Secretariat also liaised with government officials in portfolios other than the Transport department to gather information about access roads relating to:

  • economic development projects
  • education (Schools) projects
  • health projects
  • housing (Social and Private) projects

Most access roads for economic development projects are primarily designed to link a heavy industry site to the public highway or are within the boundary of a heavy industry development site. In line with the Terms of Reference, these were considered by the Panel to be outside the scope of the Review. Three road schemes related to economic development projects were considered appropriate to have further scrutiny by the Panel, and hence will be treated as ‘in scope’.

Due to the large number of housing, health and schools projects that involve an element of road construction, a different approach is required.  Rather than reviewing individual schemes, the Panel intends to provide general advice and recommendations based on examination of a sample of schemes.

2.2 List of schemes meeting the Terms of Reference

The schemes that the Panel consider meet the Terms of Reference for Review are listed in appendix A, for Ministers’ approval.  

2.3 Schemes subject to early review

The Terms of Reference made a specific request for rapid review of the Llanbedr Access Road scheme, within four weeks of appointment of the Panel Chair.

The Terms of Reference noted that in light of the fact that the Panel would not have determined their appraisal methodology by this point, the Review should be structured around the following questions:

  1. has sufficient consideration been given to non-transport solutions and solutions other than those increasing private car capacity on the road network?
  2. has sufficient consideration been given to whether the road proposal will lead to increased CO2 emissions on the road network, or cause significant impediment to achievement of our decarbonisation targets?

A further specific request was made in relation to the A55 Junction 14/15 and 16/16a Improvements scheme. Given the urgent need for a decision on whether or not this project should proceed to Public Local Inquiry, the Panel was asked to provide its view on this project as a priority, around three months after its appointment.

3. Criteria and review process

3.1 Introduction

A first task for the Panel has been to develop our criteria for reviewing the road schemes. These criteria will enable a structured consideration of how well each scheme aligns with Welsh Government policy and meets the national well-being goals.

This is not a ‘tick-box’ approach: the Panel will exercise judgement in making recommendations, reflecting the balance of evidence.

Our nine criteria are summarised below. Criteria 1-3 look at the scheme development process; criterion 4 looks at the impact of the scheme on CO2 emissions; criteria 5-8 relate to the Wales well-being goals; and criterion 9 examines whether the scheme is robust to different possible futures.

3.2 Criteria

Criterion 1: Has the case for change been made?

The review of each scheme will begin with a consideration of the purposes of the highway at the location of the scheme. The Panel will review the problems, opportunities and constraints, as set out in the scheme appraisal and other documents and consider to what extent the problems and opportunities identified at the time of the appraisal are still valid. The relationship of the scheme to land use developments will be examined.

The Panel will consider whether or not the scheme will make a positive contribution to well-being goals and Welsh Government policy and strategy.

Criterion 2: Are the objectives of the scheme aligned with current policy?

The Panel will review the alignment of the scheme’s objectives with the priorities and ambitions of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy, Net Zero Wales and Future Wales. It will consider whether and to what extent the investment proposals reflect the Sustainable Transport Hierarchy. The opportunities presented by the scheme for increasing sustainable freight movements will be reviewed. Finally, the extent to which the scheme will help achieve the sustainable transport mode share target is an important factor.

Criterion 3: Did the scheme development process examine all appropriate options?

The Panel will review the options considered during development of the scheme. It will examine whether or not there was sufficient consideration of non-transport options, sustainable transport options, demand or speed management options, and approaches that avoid an increase in private car capacity. Whether and to what extent the scheme complements other transport investment (such as in active travel) will be examined. Finally, the Panel will ask whether or not the proposed solution would have emerged if the scheme objectives had been more closely aligned with current policy, and a full range of options had been considered.

Criterion 4: What is the effect on CO2 emissions?

The Terms of Reference note the need for future road investment to avoid increasing CO2 emissions, reflecting the very challenging commitments and targets in Net Zero Wales. The Panel considers that road schemes that increase CO2 emissions are unlikely to be appropriate, unless there are special circumstances, for example in relation to road safety. Where this is the case, the Panel will seek assurance as part of its review that the CO2 impact of the scheme has been minimised.

The Panel will consider whether and to what extent the effect of the scheme on CO2 emissions has been assessed, and whether that assessment is robust. It will look at whether or not the scheme will increase or decrease CO2 emissions due to land clearance; construction; operation and maintenance; induced passenger and freight traffic; and changes in vehicle speed and flow. Finally, it will make a judgement as to whether or not the net effect of the scheme is more likely to help or hinder achievement of Welsh Government carbon emission targets and budgets during the next 15 years (the time period when most vehicles on the road will still be powered by petrol or diesel).

Criterion 5: Will the scheme be good for people and communities?

The scheme will be reviewed for its contribution to a transport system that is good for people and communities, as set out in Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy. The Panel will consider what analysis has been undertaken, and what impacts there might be, from an equalities and health perspective. The effect of the scheme on social exclusion will be considered. The air quality, noise, road safety and severance effects of the scheme will be reviewed.

Criterion 6: Will the scheme be good for the environment?

The scheme will be assessed for its environmental impacts. These include its impacts on water quality, flood risk, biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, and its effects on sites that are protected for their environmental importance.

Criterion 7: Will the scheme be good for places and the economy?

The Panel will look at how each scheme’s impact on local and national economic well-being has been assessed and whether and to what extent that impact is likely to be beneficial. It will consider whether or not the scheme will contribute positively to local place-making and liveability; and whether it may improve freight vehicle efficiency and reliability. Finally, the Panel will consider if the scheme represents good value for money by offering a cost-effective way of meeting Welsh Government objectives.

Criterion 8: Will the scheme be good for culture and the Welsh language?

Any potential effect of the scheme on the use of the Welsh Language will be considered. The Panel will also look at whether and to what extent a scheme would enable more people to travel sustainably for arts, sports, recreation or cultural activities, and whether or not it would protect the historic and cultural environment.

Criterion 9: How robust is the case for the scheme to different possible futures?

Thinking about the long-term is a key way of working within the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The Panel will look at the robustness of each scheme to different possible futures. This will include whether or not the scheme is robust to adverse impacts of climate change (e.g. flooding); and whether and to what extent it would be appropriate in a future in which other policies or social trends had resulted in a significant reduction in car use. The Panel will also look at the value for money of the scheme and how this may be affected by economic, demographic and other changes not anticipated at the time of appraisal. Long-term liabilities for maintenance and renewal, and consequent carbon effects, will be looked at. Any other measures that would be necessary for the benefits of the scheme to be realised will also be reviewed.

3.3 Review process

The scheme reviews are being undertaken using a systematic process agreed by Panel members, with Secretariat and technical support.

Firstly, scheme information has been requested and collated from the scheme sponsors (either Welsh Government officials or local authority officers). This information comprises reports and studies, typically including WelTAG Stage 1-3 reports, environmental statements, economic assessments and data analysis, as available.

Following initial document review, Panel Members may undertake an unaccompanied visit to the site of schemes. They will also meet with the scheme sponsors, alongside the Secretariat, to help resolve any queries arising from the information provided and to obtain a thorough understanding of the scheme.

Panel Members will then review the scheme against the criteria and prepare recommendations. Schemes will be discussed by the whole Panel, and a summary report of final recommendations will be drafted and approved for inclusion in the final report.

3.4 Stakeholder engagement

Each of the schemes in the Review has already been the subject of various stakeholder engagement exercises, such as informal community consultation events and stakeholder workshops. Some schemes have also been the subject of statutory consultation and determination associated with the planning consents process as well as compulsory purchase orders to build roads under the Highways Act 1980.

The Welsh Government policies against which the schemes will be reviewed have also been the subject of extensive consultation.

Building on this, our approach to engagement with stakeholders during the review will be to:

  • promote awareness of the Review and the Terms of Reference
  • ensure the Panel has access to the relevant information to inform the assessment of schemes, including reports summarising results of previous engagement
  • provide the opportunity for project sponsors to update the Panel on any new considerations
  • facilitate submissions by key stakeholders that may inform the overall Review

The Panel Chair and Secretariat are able to meet interested parties such as local authorities and wider stakeholders for transport, culture, social, economic, environment and national bodies to explain our approach and discuss the overall Review.

Information on the Roads Review is publicly available together with a contact email address.

4. Initial scheme review

4.1 Llanbedr access road

The review of the Llanbedr access road in relation to the two questions posed in the Terms of Reference was published on 1st November 2021.

The conclusions and recommendations are available on the Welsh Government website: Roads Review Panel: Llanbedr access road and bypass.

4.2 A55 Junctions 14/15 and 16/16a

The Panel has undertaken a review of the scheme using the criteria and methodology outlined in Section 3. The Review report is separately provided for Ministers’ consideration and publication on the website.

5. Next steps

The Roads Review Panel is now starting its detailed scrutiny of schemes considered to be in scope for this review. We will use the criteria and methodology set out in section 3 of this report to develop our recommendations.

Recommendations on schemes will set out whether the Panel support the progress of the scheme, or whether the scheme should no longer proceed or whether the scheme is supported to progress with modifications.

The Panel will also provide long-term strategic advice and recommendations for future road schemes and the processes for development and appraisal, where relevant themes emerge from the Review.

The Panel aims to provide its final report to the Welsh Ministers in the Summer of 2022.

Periodic updates will be provided on its work during the process via the webpage and stakeholder engagement.

Appendix A: proposed list of schemes considered to meet the terms of reference

Note not listed in table below:

  • housing projects that are subject to a sample review.
  • Llanbedr access road as panel has concluded recommendations

Strategic road network

South West Wales

M4: J43-47 Swansea

M4: J38-43 Port Talbot

A487: Fishguard to Cardigan

A40: Carmarthen to Llandeilo Corridor

A40: Carmarthen to St Clears

A4076: Haverfordwest

A48: Cross Hands to Pensarn Corridor

A48: Nantycaws Junction Improvement

South East Wales

M4: J35-38 Bridgend

A4042: Southern Corridor, Pontypool to M4

Cardiff Eastern Transport Corridor

M4: Junction J32-35 and A470 Coryton to Merthyr Corridors Various Interventions

Mid Wales

A487: Dorglwyd Comins Coch

A40: Millbrook Farm, Brecon

A44: Llangurig to Aberystwyth

A470: Alltmawr (Chapel House Farm)

A470: Caersws

A470: Llangurig

A470: Llanidloes

A470: Pont y Bat (Felinfach)

A487: Llanrhystyd

A487: Machynlleth

A494: Maesgammedd Road Junction Improvement

A487: North of Aberarth

A487: Rhiwstaerdywyll

North Wales

A494: Lon Fawr Ruthin/ Corwen Road

A487: Llwyn Mafon

A493: Wrexham Bypass Junction 3 to 6

A5/ A483: Halton Roundabout

A55: At-grade crossing review

A55: J33b Ewloe to A494 Queensferry interchange corridor study

A55: Junction 23 to 24 Corridor Study

A55: Junction 24 to 29 Corridor Study

A55: Junction 30 to 32a Corridor Study

A55: Junctions 15 and 16

A55: Slow moving vehicle over taking restrictions

A55 / A494: Network Resilience Study

Flintshire Corridor Improvement

Third Menai Crossing

Economic development

Warren Hall, Flintshire (north Wales)

Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran (south east Wales)

Celtic Business Park, Fishguard (south eest Wales)

Local Transport Fund / Resilience Road Fund

South West Wales

Llanelli Urban and Coastal Belt Network Improvements

Carmarthenshire Strategic Public Transport Corridors

Cymmer Carriageway Improvements, Neath Port Talbot

Newgale Coastal Adaptation and A487 diversion scheme

Northern City Link Sustainable Transport Corridor, Swansea

South East Wales

Aberbeeg Road, Blaenau Gwent

A4119: Coed Ely Dualling

A469: Troedrhiwfuwch

Cynon Gateway North

Llanharan Bypass

Severn Tunnel Junction Access

North Wales

North Wales Metro: Abergele Town Centre Congestion Improvement

North Wales Metro: Llandudno Congestion Improvement Phase 4

Other

Chester-Broughton Growth Corridor (north Wales)

Appendix B: policy and appraisal context

Introduction

In developing a methodology for the Review, the Panel has taken into account the policy documents and appraisal context described below.

Key policies

Llwybr Newydd: the Wales Transport Strategy

Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy, published in 2021, sets out the Welsh Government’s vision for how the transport system can help to deliver priorities for Wales.

The Strategy was developed using the five ways of working as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and with engagement from transport users, service providers and key partners.

The strategy outlines three priorities over the next five years:

  • Priority 1: Bring services to people in order to reduce the need to travel
  • Priority 2: Allow people and goods to move easily from door to door by accessible, sustainable and efficient transport services and infrastructure
  • Priority 3: Encourage people to make the change to more sustainable transport

Under Priority 2, where new transport infrastructure is needed, the Sustainable Transport Hierarchy will be used to guide decisions.

The sustainable transport hierarchy

We will continue to make best use of existing transport infrastructure by maintaining and managing it well. We will also adapt it to a changing climate and upgrade it to support modal shift. Where we need new infrastructure, we will use the sustainable transport hierarchy.

Image
Diagram illustrating the sustainable transport hierarchy. The various levels are described in the text below.

The sustainable transport hierarchy gives priority to walking and cycling and public transport, followed by ultra-low emissions and finally private vehicles.

Wellbeing ambitions

Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy has 4 long-term wellbeing ambitions over the next 20 years. These show how transport should contribute to the wider Welsh Government ambitions and to the goals in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015:

  • Good for People and Communities: a transport system that contributes to a more equal Wales and to a healthier Wales, that everyone has the confidence to use.
  • Good for the Environment: a transport system that delivers a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, maintains biodiversity and enhances ecosystem resilience, and reduces waste.
  • Good for the Economy and Places in Wales: a transport system that contributes to our wider economic ambitions, and helps local communities, supports a more sustainable supply chain, uses the latest innovations and addresses transport affordability.
  • Good for Culture and the Welsh Language: a transport system that supports the Welsh language, enables more people to use sustainable transport to get to arts, sport and cultural activities, and protects and enhances the historic environment.

Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy sets a target for 45% of trips to be made by sustainable modes by 2040.

Future Wales: The National Plan 2040

The Welsh Government published 'Future Wales: The National Plan 2040', in February 2021. Future Wales sets out the spatial context for enabling development in Wales over the next 20 years. Its purpose is to guide both public and private investment and contribute to the wider objectives of the Welsh Government; sustaining and developing a vibrant economy, achieving decarbonisation and climate resilience, developing strong ecosystems and improving the health and well-being of communities across Wales.

The Future Wales spatial strategy seeks to blend existing settlement and employment patterns with a vision of wider trends to which Welsh Government must respond. Future Wales sets out 11 key outcomes which are overarching ambitions based on the national planning principles and national sustainable placemaking outcomes set out in Planning Policy Wales. The 11 outcomes that have been identified for the next 20-year period are summarised in the box below.

Future Wales key outcomes

A Wales where people live…

1

…and work in connected, inclusive and healthy places

2

…in vibrant rural places with access to homes, jobs and services.

3

…in distinctive regions that tackle health and socio-economic inequality through sustainable growth.

4

…in places with a thriving Welsh Language.

5

…and work in towns and cities which are a focus and springboard for sustainable growth.

6

…in places where prosperity, innovation and culture are promoted.

7

…in places where travel is sustainable.

8

…in places with world-class digital infrastructure.

9

…in places that sustainably manage their natural resources and reduce pollution.

10

…in places with biodiverse, resilient and connected ecosystems.

11

…in places that are decarbonised and climate resilient.

Net Zero Wales

'Net Zero Wales Carbon Budget 2: 2021-25was published by Welsh Government in October 2021 and is accompanied by a pledges and case study document ‘Working together to reach net zero: the All-Wales Plan 2021-25’. Net Zero Wales highlights the Roads Review as Proposal 4:

“A pause and review of existing road proposals and a new methodology for assessing the appropriateness of future road schemes”.

The transport sector includes transport emissions within Wales along with Wales’ share of emissions from international aviation and shipping. At 6.6 MtCO2e, transport accounted for 17% of Welsh emissions in 2019, the third largest greenhouse gas emitting sector.

Of this, 55% is from cars, 17% from light trucks and 14% from heavy goods vehicles and buses. Practically all transport emissions (99%) are emissions of CO2.

The report identifies that meeting Carbon Budget 2 and setting Wales on a pathway to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 will require action in three broad areas for passenger and freight transport:

  • demand reduction and modal shift, how behavioural and societal shifts could reduce or change demand for travel.
  • the technological options available and the uptake of transport with low or zero emissions.
  • improvements to fuel efficiency in conventional vehicles.

These have been used to set the Wales 2050 pathway for passenger and freight transport and inform Welsh Government’s ambition statement for the transport sector.

Transport sector ambition statement

We aim to reduce emissions from passenger transport by 22% in 2025 (from 2019) and 98% in 2050 through demand reduction, modal shift and the uptake of low carbon technologies.

Our aim is to reduce the number of car miles travelled per person by 10% by 2030 and to increase the proportion of trips by sustainable travel mode (public transport and active travel) to 35% by 2025 and 39% by 2030.

By 2025 10% of passenger car travel will be by zero emission car and 48% of new car sales will be zero emission, we will have a comprehensive network of electric vehicle charging points and will also have transitioned a large proportion of our bus, taxi and private hire vehicles fleet to zero emission vehicles.

Other relevant policy

Following a statement from the First Minister in 2019 about the benefits of 20mph zones, the Wales 20mph Taskforce Group was formed. The group published a report in October 2020, which made 21 recommendations for the rollout of the 20mph default national speed limit on restricted roads. All were accepted by the Welsh Government.

‘Restricted’ roads are roads on which street lighting is provided by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart. They are typically in residential and built-up areas of high pedestrian activity. The default speed limit for such roads is currently 30mph, although local authorities can use traffic regulation orders to set another speed limit in appropriate cases.

The intention has been supported in the Senedd and a consultation took place ending 1st October 2021.

The Welsh Government’s Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy was published in March 2021. It sets out the urgent need to decarbonise our transport systems and identifies that more needs to be done to support the transition to electric vehicles. A Vision for Charging in Wales is put forward that

“By 2025, all users of electric cars and vans in Wales are confident that they can access electric vehicle charging infrastructure when and where they need it.

A further potential emerging policy area relates to Road User Charging, with an independent report published in November 2020 recommending that Welsh Government develop a National Framework for road user charging in Wales. Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy committed to develop a framework for fair and equitable road user charging.

Welsh Government has also committed in Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy to update its Road Safety Framework, building on the previous version of the road safety framework which was drawn up in 2013.

Appraisal context

Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance

WelTAG is the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance, providing the framework for decision making and good practice for the development, appraisal and evaluation of proposed transport interventions. The current version of the WelTAG guidance was published in 2017 and is accompanied by supplementary guidance on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The purpose of WelTAG is to ensure that public funds are invested in a way that ensures they maximise contribution to the well-being of Wales.

As well as embedding the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, WelTAG combines the principles of the HM Treasury Green Book and the Five Case Model for Better Business Cases, with TAG best practice for transport appraisal.

There are 5 stages to WelTAG, from Strategic outline case through to post implementation. The schemes considered in the Roads Review will have been subject to one or more of stages 1 to 3.

Stage 1 Strategic outline case
Stage 2 Outline business case
Stage 3 Full business case
Stage 4 Implementation
Stage 5 Post implementation

At each stage, the 5 Cases are to be considered in line with the guidance:

  • strategic case: the case for change, fit with policies and well-being objectives.
  • transport case: does the proposal offer good public value for money and maximise contribution to the well-being goals?
  • financial case: is the proposed spend affordable?
  • commercial case: how can the scheme be procured, is it viable?
  • management case: is the scheme achievable? Can it be delivered?

WelTAG is currently under review to update it in line with the most recent policies and to address any gaps.

The Roads Review is proceeding in parallel with the update of WelTAG guidance and will be informed by it; the Review may also lead to recommendations for updates of the guidance.

Integrated Sustainability Appraisal

Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy was accompanied by an Integrated Sustainability Appraisal (ISA). The ISA appraised the contents of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy against 13 sustainability objectives, listed in the box, to help to promote sustainable development and test Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy before it came into force.

ISA objectives

  1. to contribute to an improvement in physical, mental and social health and well-being for all, including contributing towards a reduction in health inequalities across Wales
  2. to create the conditions within which an improvement in social cohesion and equality can be achieved
  3. to create the conditions within which an improvement in social cohesion and equality can be achieved
  4. to protect and promote Welsh culture and improve access to cultural and recreational spaces
  5. to encourage the protection and promotion of the Welsh language
  6. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport
  7. to enable climate change resilience
  8. to protect and improve air quality
  9. to protect and enhance the local distinctiveness of our landscapes and townscapes
  10. to promote the conservation and enhancement of heritage assets
  11. to promote the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity and geodiversity
  12. to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources
  13. to enable the protection of tranquil areas and prevention of noise and light pollution

ISA was undertaken throughout the preparation of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy, feeding back recommendations through an iterative assessment process, to improve the sustainable development performance of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy. The ISA was high-level and considered both positive and negative effects.

One of the ‘ways of working’ that form part of the Welsh Government sustainable development principle is the need to take an integrated approach. The ISA, therefore, included several statutory and non-statutory assessments such as health impact, equalities, Welsh language and Rights of the Child. This allowed a more rounded view of the sustainability implications and opportunities arising from Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy.

The ISA is both informative and complementary to the Roads Review. As a statutory appraisal process, it has tested the priorities and outcomes of Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy in terms of sustainability and Welsh Government legislation and policy. The Roads Review can therefore rely on Llwybr Newydd the Wales Transport Strategy priorities and outcomes as a tested sustainable approach in its consideration of road schemes.

An ISA of the emerging National Transport Delivery Plan (NTDP) is also ongoing. This will appraise schemes and investment programmes within the national plan against sustainability objectives and will provide a further test of robustness to ensure the overall sustainability of the transport programme.

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