Ken Skates MS, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales
Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport
Today we are launching Llwybr Newydd – the Wales Transport Strategy 2021 that will shape our transport system in Wales over the next 20 years.
In Wales, we are literally taking a “llwybr newydd", a new path. This Strategy places people and climate change at the front and centre of our transport system.
The climate emergency is one of the biggest defining issues of our time. To meet our net zero emission target by 2050, we must act now. Not doing so will leave a greater problem to future generations.
Responding to climate change requires a change in the way we travel. We need fewer cars on our roads, more people using public transport and more walking or cycling. We won’t achieve that level of change unless we take people with us, listening to users and involving people in designing a transport system that works for everyone. The Strategy commits to engaging users in the planning and delivery of our transport system.
The Strategy sets a vision for an accessible, sustainable and efficient transport system that is supported by 20 year ambitions that are good for people and communities, good for the environment, good for the economy and places and supports a thriving Welsh language and culture.
The Strategy will focus on three priorities. The first priority is about how we manage travel demand and to bring services to people in order to reduce the need to travel. This is not about preventing travel altogether, it is about planning ahead for better physical and digital connectivity to support access to more local services, more home and remote working. If more people can walk and cycle for everyday trips, we will reduce our dependency on cars.
Second priority is about more sustainable services and infrastructure The Strategy explains how we will allow people and goods to move easily from door-to-door by sustainable transport and how we will invest in reliable, efficient and affordable transport services that people want to use, can use and do use and in the transport infrastructure to support those services.
The third and final priority is about encouraging people to make the change to more sustainable transport. Meeting our climate change targets will need people to travel differently. This means making it easier to do the right thing by making low carbon sustainable transport more attractive and more affordable, and by adopting innovations that make it easier to use.
Together, these three priorities will improve our health, tackle poverty, achieve equality and open our transport system to all, particularly for those without access to a car and those living in rural areas.
A major commitment in the strategy is to move people away from using their cars to walking and cycling and to use public transport. To support our shift from the current 32% share to 45% by 2040 we will need to increase our investment in these areas.
As a clear example of our commitment to achieving our modal shift target we are making available an interest free loan of £70m to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. This is to take forward in conjunction with Network Rail and Transport for Wales the infrastructure on the Ebbw Vale line which will secure the additional service between Newport and Ebbw Vale, and help unlock our jointly held aspirations to re-open the spur to Abertillery ultimately increasing services to 4 trains per hour. Lord Burns identified the need for a rail led solution in South Wales, and in providing this funding Welsh Government is demonstrating its commitment.
Local authorities will play a key role in delivering the commitments we are making in Llwybr Newydd. This is why we are allocating over £116m to local authorities across Wales to spend in 2021/22 financial year with further allocations to follow. This funding will support improvements to public transport and take forward our metro vision for an integrated transport system. Local authorities in the South West Metro area will receive over £8.7million and Transport for Wales will have a further £3million to support the South Wales Metro initiatives. To encourage walking and cycling, we have allocated nearly £47m to enhance the network and additional funding will be made available to support local authorities to improve and upgrade existing walking and cycling routes.
To address climate change, we have allocated over £17m to adapt our infrastructure to be resilient to the flooding events that are having a huge impact on people and communities.
Aligned with the Wales Transport Strategy is our Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy which we will publish next week. The strategy recognises that electric vehicles will play an important part in the future of transport. Access to chargepoints for all users, and in all parts of Wales, is essential if we are to fully decarbonise and improve the quality of our air. By setting a vision for the future charging requirement we are facilitating consumer confidence in making the switch to electric vehicles. This will also help to pull together actions to deliver a significant increase in charging facilities over a crucial decade. To begin to deliver the commitments in this Strategy we are allocating £9m next financial year to local authorities to move to zero emission vehicles and to roll-out charging infrastructure
Where we need new transport infrastructure, we will take a new approach. We will use the Sustainable Transport Planning Hierarchy to give priority to meeting the demand for travel by walking, cycling and public transport ahead of private motor vehicles. To make sure this approach is fully embedded in our investment decisions and those taken by other delivery partners, we will be reviewing the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance to be consistent with Llwybr Newydd. We will also look towards developing a criteria to assist users of WelTAG to decide when to invest in new infrastructure. Projects that receive transport funding from Welsh Government will need to demonstrate alignment with Llwybr Newydd.
Llwybr Newydd is the beginning of a journey – not an end. A new journey that future generations can be proud of.