New ways of planning for transport and mobility in Wales are fundamental to the achievement of the well-being goals. Mobility is an important part of everyone’s lives. If we get it right for our most vulnerable citizens, we will get it right for everyone, with a positive impact on our ability to reduce air pollution and meet carbon reduction targets.

Meeting the requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 will provide travel options that are low or zero carbon, reducing air pollution and promoting environmental resilience. It will also help equalise opportunities for all and play a role in supporting healthy lifestyles, improving community cohesion, and creating a well-connected Wales.

In my Future Generations 2020 Report, the areas I recommend that all public bodies, including Welsh Government, should focus on, include:

  • Decisions on transport must reflect the climate emergency
  • Achieving modal shift and reduce our reliance on cars
  • Embracing technology
  • Consider mobility as a route to wider well-being

For my full evidence, assessment, key findings and advice please see the section on Transport on our designated future generations report website.

“We all have an interest, and a duty to future generations, to ensure that the benefits of mobility that we now take for granted, do not place an intolerable burden on our environment.” Elliot Morley

Transport has been an area of focus since 2017. Here are some of the projects we have worked on in relation to transport: 

  • Transport Fit for Future Generations Report
    Transport Fit for Future Generations Report

    The ‘Transport Fit for Future Generations Report’ published by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales in 2018  shows how Wales could transform its transport system by investing in public transport, active travel and ensuring delivery of all phases of the South Wales Metro with the £1.4bn currently earmarked for the M4 Black Route.

    ‘Transport Fit for Future Generations’ written in partnership with the Centre for Transport and Society (CTS), University of the West of England, Sustrans and New Economics Foundation illustrates, with practical examples, how a sustainable transport system could be designed for any part of Wales.

    The report highlights that despite the large and consistent body of evidence, successive governments, and the bodies that advise them, have repeatedly found it convenient to forget or deny that new roads generate more traffic independently of changes arising from growth in population or the economy.

    If we are choosing to spend such a vast amount of public money on a project we need to be certain that the money we are borrowing will positively contribute to the social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being of our future generations.

    The findings of this report clearly justify a reasonable cause for a review and re-appraisal of Welsh Government’s M4 Black Route proposal.”

    Overview of findings and recommendations:

    • There are limitations to modelling undertaken by the Welsh Government
    • The Black Route would exacerbate many of the societal and environmental challenges facing Wales
    • The Black Route is weak on the criteria set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act

     Statistics:

    • Building the Black Route will result in an emission of 500,000+ tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents which will not be removed from the atmosphere until at least 2072
    • 24% of households in Wales did not own a car in 2011/12
    • Expanding the investment programme in Active Travel out to the whole Cardiff Capital Region would cost approx. £290 million but would result in economic benefits of £2.5bn over 20 years, delivering a 19% and 82% increase in walking and cycling trips respectively
    • A similar level of increase could be delivered across the whole of Wales with an investment of £600m, delivering £5bn of benefits over 20 years

    Our partners’ reports

    UWE: Alternative transport scenarios for South East Wales: Building for a sustainable transport future

    NEF: Alternative Transport Options for South Wales

    Sustrans: Investing in active travel in South East Wales

    Policy context for investment in active travel in South Wales

  • Welsh Transport Appraisal guidance (WelTAG)
    Welsh Transport Appraisal guidance (WelTAG)

    The Commissioner was approached by the Welsh Government transport team in 2017 to advise on their proposed update of the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG), and to ensure that the Act was embedded across the guidance rather than presented as a supplementary note (as was initially envisaged). As a result of our advice and assistance, the new WelTAG published in December 2017 was substantially different, with the Well-being of Future Generations Act central and upfront. The new guidance now clearly states:

    “It has been developed by the Welsh Government to ensure that public funds are invested in a way that ensures they maximise contribution to the wellbeing of Wales, as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and to deliver the Act’s vision of the Wales we want”. It also says that “WelTAG has been revised to ensure that it can drive this positive change and innovation in Wales, to ensure contribution to the seven national well-being goals and to embed the spirit of the Act.”

    This new guidance represents a significant procedural change in how public bodies go about doing things and has influenced practical behaviour changes in others.  It encourages people to think wider than just road transport solutions and emphasises the need to consider wider issues such as equality of access, health, air quality, promoting active travel and reducing carbon emissions when they formulate their options throughout the process until the evaluation of the project.

    Three years on, there is still work to be done in relation to implementing the new Guidance in the way it is intended, to ensure that all opportunities for considering more innovative solutions are identified and delivered by all public bodies in Wales.

  • Wales Transport Strategy (WTS)
    Wales Transport Strategy (WTS)

    Welsh Government is currently writing a new national transport strategy for Wales, as the current one dates back to 2008. My team is working closely with transport officials to ensure that their vision and priorities are in line with the Act. A draft will be published for consultation in November and the final strategy will be adopted next year (2021).

  • M4 & new Transport Commission
    M4 & new Transport Commission

    Acting as guardian of future generations and promoting the sustainable development principle as defined in the Act, the Commissioner submitted further evidence following initial written evidence to the M4 public inquiry in 2017. Her advice to Welsh Government and submission to the public inquiry questioned how the Act was being considered in an existing decision (M4) and whether the decision to borrow over £1 billion is the right one for future generations.  The Commissioner wanted to avoid a dangerous precedent being set by challenging the arguments presented in the M4 inquiry which she believed could lead to a misinterpretation the Well-being of Future Generations Act and undermine its spirit and purpose.

    The decision not to proceed with the proposed M4 relief road in 2019 demonstrated significant leadership and encouraging recognition of the need for urgent action to curb transport-related emissions as well as protecting the valuable habitats of the Gwent Levels.  Over the last 12 months my team has been working with the newly formed South East Wales Transport Commission (SEWTC) to influence the alternative proposals that are being developed to address the congestion around Newport.

  • Transport for Wales
    Transport for Wales

    The Commissioner welcomes Transport for Wales’ positive approach and willingness to work with others to identify best practice from elsewhere, and to voluntarily adopt the Well-being of Future Generations Act in their work.

    Following the appointment of the new rail operator (Keolis Amey) in 2018, the Commissioner will continue to support and challenge Transport for Wales and support the new operator to ensure all opportunities to contribute to the seven well-being goals are taken.

    We were encouraged by the modelling done by KeolisAmey, as part of their bid, of how they will include the 7 well-being goals in their delivery. 

    More information about Transport for Wales’ work on the Act here.

Examples of good practice

Over the last few years we’ve come across a number of initiatives, in Wales and beyond, that support the ambitions of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Many of these are highlighted within my recent report, including:

  • Healthy Travel Charter adopted by Cardiff Public Services Board and the Vale of Glamorgan Public Services Board, signed by over 20 major public sector organisations including my office, committing us to support walking, cycling, public transport and ultra-low emission vehicle use. There are plans to extend this across Wales as well as to other sectors
  • In Monmouthshire, where loneliness and social isolation has a significant impact on people’s health and well-being and where a lack of transport also limits the ability of people to access training and employment, the Council has worked with Government Digital Services to find an innovative solution to address this issue.
  • Many public bodies have moved to using electric vehicles and are working in partnership to improve EV charging capacity.
  • Transport for Wales has made travel on their services free for essential workers as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Many local authorities including Cardiff and Carmarthenshire have taken steps to prioritise space for pedestrians and cyclists in response to the recent pandemic, to support economic recovery.
  • In Helsinki, Finland, residents use an app called Whim, heralded as the world’s first Mobility as a service, offering to plan and pay for all modes of public and private transportation within the city – be it by train, taxi, bus, carshare, or bike-share. It utilises technology to combine modes of transport seamlessly. The UK government is looking at MaaS in detail, and Whim has been launched in the West Midlands.

Useful Resources