Pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade has today (27th July) launched a campaign calling on the Welsh Government to drop its ban on new road building and get started on a new crossing over the Menai Strait, which the ban has put a halt to.
Not only will the much-needed new road slash congestion and emissions, but also support investment on Anglesey, boost growth and unlock much needed jobs on the island.
A third crossing over the Strait is also essential for securing a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. A move that will create thousands of high-quality jobs, while helping to fight climate change by providing clean, secure domestic energy.
Every day 42,300 vehicles rely on the two 19th Century bridges linking Anglesey with mainland Wales. The temporary closure last year of the aging Menai Bridge for repairs caused traffic chaos and economic pain for people and businesses in North West Wales.
However, plans for a new crossing fell victim to a decision to scrap 55 road building projects on climate grounds, introducing an effective ban on any future road building in Wales.
This was despite the Welsh Government’s own predictions showing vehicle crossings will continue to increase beyond the next decade and intensify congestion, which will lead to higher emissions.
Cancelling the new road link to Anglesey is opposed by close to half (46%) of people within the region and supported by just a third (33%) of people who live in north Wales.
The poll also found that half of people across Wales (49%) are opposed to the ban on new roads being built, while a third (33%) support it and 18% say they don’t know.
Half of people (49%) also thought that banning road building would be ineffective at reducing overall carbon emissions in Wales.
This has been backed up by research from Britain Remade which found continuing to deliver new road projects that cut traffic congestion, speed up journey times and increase economic growth can happen at the same time as tackling climate change.
The research, which looked at the impact of Westminster’s main scheme for building and upgrading Britain’s motorways and major roads, found that adding 370 miles on new road increased CO2 emissions by just 0.1%. Dispelling the myth from extremist eco-groups that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions is to stop building crucial new road infrastructure.
The Britain Remade polling also found that half of people in Wales (50%) thought the ban on building new roads would have a negative impact on the economy.
The polling demonstrates wide opposition to the road building ban across the political spectrum with 67% of Conservative voters, 46% Labour and 43% of Plaid Cymru voters all against.
Sam Richards, Founder and Campaign Director of Britain Remade, said:
“There's no doubt that we need a third Menai crossing.
“Local residents know it’s needed, local businesses know it’s needed and even the Welsh Government have admitted it’s needed. But we can’t get spades in the ground while the barmy ban on new road projects in Wales is in place.
“Speaking with businesses on Ynys Mon, I’ve been struck by how many are being hampered by the lack of a 21st century connection to the mainland. So, today we’re calling on the Welsh Government to drop its ban on new roads, so that Anglesey can flourish.
“If we want to tackle climate change the answer is not banning new roads. All this will achieve is more congestion, higher emissions and longer journey times, while strangling economic growth and job creation in Wales.
“Instead, we need to build projects like the third Menai crossing, which is essential for making the business case for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, providing the clean domestic energy that is necessary to help us fight climate change.
“The governments in Cardiff and London need to stop playing politics, and work together to make the lives of those who rely on the Menai crossing easier.”
Virginia Crosbie, Conservative MP for Anglesey, said:
"Ynys Môn needs a third crossing to ease congestion on the two now old bridges that have a question mark over their ability to stay open regularly following the lengthy closure of the Menai Suspension Bridge recently.
“A freeport and new nuclear at Wylfa plus our position as the Energy Isle are going to attract jobs and investment, and the island needs to have the infrastructure in place to make the most of these huge opportunities. A big part of this is to be able to reliably get on and off Anglesey by vehicle.
“I support the campaign by Britain Remade for a third crossing. I will work closely with it to achieve this aim.
“To the Labour Government in Cardiff, I say this: the decision to halt road building was short-sighted and it is unpopular. Think again for the good of Ynys Môn, for Wales and for the UK."
Ken Skates, former Economy and Transport Minister and MS for Clwyd South, said:
“The need for the UK and every other nation to be Net Zero by 2050 is beyond contention. We must do it whilst also solving the problems of a terribly unequal economy, sluggish growth and low productivity.
“If we are willing to be radical, we can lead the race to Net Zero in road construction, whilst also turbocharging the economy and levelling up the UK. Denmark is spending 22bn Euros on new roads, China is predicted to be spending $8 trillion. We should be equally ambitious in investing in infrastructure to address inequality, but with a determination to lead the world in low carbon innovation that reduces embedded carbon.
“Effectively banning road improvements won’t lead to lower emissions, regardless of how virtuous such a declaration appears. In fact, it will worsen emissions in many of the most deprived communities we serve, further poison children who face many other disadvantages and widen the gaps in life expectancy and employment opportunities. We cannot walk away from the problems of environmental injustice and social injustice. We must instead seek to lead in providing solutions to both.”