Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, welcomes the news that all new road building projects in Wales are being paused by Welsh Government
“This is a huge step in the right direction for the healthier, resilient and more equal Wales and shows the difference having a Well-being of Future Generations Act makes."
“I’m pleased that Welsh Government has responded to the recommendations in my Future Generations Report 2020 to stop prioritising investment in building new roads and move away from traditional transport planning and onto a combination of alternative solutions to the climate emergency.
“Transport is Wales’ third-largest source of the gases driving climate change and heart disease is the leading cause of death in Wales – a condition linked to both poor air quality and reduced exercise.
“Wales has for too long been prioritising cars over people – I’m hopeful that this new decision signals more of the radical action that will be taken by Welsh Government’s new Climate Change Ministry for the sake of our long-term health.
“An over-reliance on the car has led to increased noise, poorer air quality, time wasted in traffic and an unacceptable burden on communities living near our most congested roads, often in areas where fewer people drive a car.
“As we move away from building new roads, Welsh Government has to work quickly to improve alternatives – listening to communities and making it easier for more people to make public transport and active travel their first choice.
“We’re seeing a shift away from the car – driving licenses in younger people have decreased over the past 25 years – but there’s work to be done to make public transport and active travel a viable option for everyone.
“We need an affordable, integrated, reliable, efficient and low carbon public transport network, that’s connected to things like healthcare, in rural areas especially, and housing, with safe and easy access to walking and cycling.
“As we move towards our target for a net zero Wales, we also need to be investing in the trends of the future now, to help deal with some of our immediate challenges – such as those identified in a major report by the Climate Change Committee that found the gap between risks and action is getting bigger.”
Notes to editors
The Future Generations Commissioner supported Welsh Government to update its Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) in 2018. Sophie Howe says implementation has been slow and that today’s news will help move Wales in the right direction.
In March 2021, the commissioner said Welsh Government’s new 20-year transport strategy was “a transport strategy with people, climate and the Well-being of Future Generations Act at the centre of how we’ll move and connect in Wales.”
In November 2020, she described the findings of the South East Wales Transport Commission into alternatives to the scrapped M4 relief road as “ a landmark moment for Wales’ transport system and testament to the change that the Act is bringing about.”
With a remit set out in law, Sophie Howe is the world’s only Future Generations Commissioner.
She took on the role after Wales introduced the pioneering Well-being of Future Generations Act in 2015.
Her job as the ‘guardian of the interests of future generations’ is to advise the Government and other public bodies on delivering lasting social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being.