Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
The Welsh Government’s overall aims in relation to transport are set out in the Wales Transport Strategy.
I am clear that transport has a critical role to play in improving Wales’ economic competiveness and provides enhanced access to jobs and services.
I see transport as a key enabler for many of this Government’s priorities and supporting the delivery of the Programme for Government. I recognise that in thinking about transport we must focus on how it can serve the needs of businesses, people and communities. It is my intention to ensure that Wales has excellent national and international connections, enabling access to markets, to employment, education and services. I also believe that providing affordable, effective and efficient transport systems can play an important role in helping to tackle poverty.
Since taking on the transport portfolio, I have had the opportunity to review investment in transport in light of its contribution to my wider economic development priorities. This enabled me to see new opportunities for transport solutions and consider the feedback I have had from the business community and partners. Progress in discussions with the UK Government on financing options is also opening up opportunities that we have not been able to consider up to now.
This statement highlights key road projects for delivery in the remainder of this Assembly, recognising that progress will be subject to statutory consents and funding availability. I intend providing a further update to Assembly Members before the summer recess of rail infrastructure priorities.
I have already made a written statement on 26 June on my intention to consult on a draft plan and associated assessments for the M4 corridor around Newport in September, that, if implemented, would lead to a motorway being built to the South of Newport, addressing capacity and resilience problems on this key artery widely recognised as essential to support the Welsh economy.
In addition, I intend to progress the Eastern Bay Link in Cardiff and an upgrade to Junction 28 on the M4. These projects are an important element in improving access to the Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone and enhancing connectivity within the city region.
The A465 remains a priority and I will progress the remaining phases of the dualling in view of the route’s strategic importance for the Upper Valleys, Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone and as an national and international link.
To improve access to the St Athan - Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone, I will fund improvements to Five Mile Lane.
I will continue to deliver key schemes already under construction. These include improvements on the A477 St Clears - Red Roses; A470 Gelligemlyn and Maes yr Helmau – Cross Foxes; A487 Glandyfi, A465 Brynmawr to Tredegar.
I will also continue to progress the A483/A489 Newtown bypass and A487 Caernarfon-Bontnewydd where, in both cases, I have made recent announcements.
I will be setting aside funding for scheme development to ensure that we can progress the development of other schemes, this will include the next stages studies on improvements to the A494, the A40 and the Dyfi bridge.
These major projects are important but it is obvious from conversations with businesses and people across Wales that smaller, targeted improvements to tackle pinch points and improve the efficiency of the network across Wales have the potential to make a real difference. The following improvements will be delivered over the next two years:
- M4 Port Talbot Junction 40 to J 41
- A483 Newtown town centre congestion
- M4 J32 Coryton dedicated slip road
- A55 Emergency refuges
- M4 J33 dedicated slip road
In addition, further study work on certain other pinch points will continue in the next year, specifically:
- A487 Dyfi Bridge drainage study
- A55 Britannia Bridge congestion study
Further projects will follow in future years.
I will ensure that there is a clear pipeline of further projects that can be delivered as funding becomes available.
In recognition of their strategic national importance, I have also asked for consideration of additional routes and sections to be included as part of the Trunk Road Network. These routes will support a combination of enterprise zones, end to end connectivity, tourism and access to commercial and business centres as well as providing resilience for the Trunk Road Network. I have asked for discussions to begin with Local Authorities to re-define the Welsh Trunk Road Network.
I have considered carefully how transport investment can help drive the development of the Enterprise Zones.
As noted earlier in this statement, the Eastern Bay link and improvements along the M4 have an important role to play in stimulating the Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone. Similarly, improvements to Five Mile Lane and the development of a new railway station and line extension to Ebbw Town will benefit the Enterprise Zones in St Athan – Cardiff Airport and at Ebbw Vale respectively.
Improving the A40 has been identified as a priority by the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone Board and I intend to undertake further development of previously proposed improvements. I also intend progressing further study work on the options for improvements to the A494, which is important to the Deeside Enterprise Zone.
The development of the business case for north Wales rail modernisation and progressing improvements to the A55, including the Conwy Tunnels, will also support the ambitions of the Deeside, Snowdonia and Anglesey Enterprise Zone Boards.
More broadly I am making substantial investment in both bus and rail transport services, in road safety and in active travel measures. I am continuing to look to secure maximum value for money and impact from this investment. Further updates on rail infrastructure priorities and on the outcome of the work of the North East Wales Integrated Transport Task Force will follow before the summer recess.
I believe that these transport measures will provide a solid basis for strengthening the Welsh economy.