Hard working people across Wales are against the Welsh Government’s ban on building new roads as a measure to tackle climate change. The policy was introduced in February by Welsh Labour, but the move is seen by the public as an ineffective way of cutting carbon emissions.
A new poll, released today by pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade, reveals that half of people in Wales (49%) are opposed to the ban, while a third (33%) support it and 18% of the Welsh population saying they don’t know.
Following the year-long review by the Welsh Roads Panel, 55 road building projects were scrapped by the Cardiff Government on climate grounds, introducing an effective ban on any future road building in Wales.
Half of people (49%) also thought that banning road building would be ineffective at reducing overall carbon emissions in Wales.
This view has been backed up by research conducted by 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, dispels the myth from extremist eco-groups that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions is to stop building crucial new road infrastructure.
It found that CO2 emissions from road transport increased by just 0.1% from the 370 miles of road built through the Department for Transport’s Road Investment Strategy 1 between 2015 and 2020. This includes emissions from both building and maintaining the roads and the extra journeys that the new roads encourage.
The new analysis instead found that carbon emissions from motorists are expected to plummet by 64% by 2050, compared to 2020 levels, as motorists make the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles. This is despite an expected 18% increase in total miles driven during the same time period.
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 are all against.
In North Wales, the controversial decision by the Welsh Government to scrap the Third Menai bridge over the Menai Strait from Anglesey to mainland Wales has also been challenged by the polling, with close to half (46%) of people within the region against scrapping the new crossing.
The shelving of the project is a blow to the local economy in Anglesey as the scheme would have supported plans for a Small Modular Reactor at the Wylfa nuclear power station site.
Sam Richards, Founder and Campaign Director of Britain Remade, said:
“Our polling has revealed huge levels of opposition to the Welsh Government’s barmy policy of banning new roads being built from across the political spectrum, which just goes to show just how badly thought through the policy is.
“If we want to tackle climate change the answer is not banning new roads. All this will achieve is more congestion and longer journey times, while strangling economic growth and job creation in Wales.
“Instead, we need to build roads fit for the future, lined with a plentiful supply of electric vehicle charging stations so that drivers have the freedom to make the switch when the time is right for them.
“The switch to electric vehicles isn’t going to happen overnight. The Welsh Government needs to get ready for the future by building the infrastructure it needs now, so drivers are confident they’ll be able to quickly and easily get from A to B without a second thought.
“Yes, we need to be investing in new railways, new trams and new cycle paths, but we also need to invest in roads, which is the way most people get to work. They should be helping drivers, not punishing them.”