The Welsh Government has dropped its support and funding for the Llanbedr Access Road scheme, which was seen as essential for the development of a spaceport in North Wales.
In a written statement, Lee Waters MS, deputy minister for climate change, said he had accepted the recommendations of the chair of the Welsh Government’s roads review panel and would not support any further work on the scheme.
The Panel, chaired by Dr Lynn Sloman MBE, is in the process of setting tests ‘for when new roads are the right solutions for transport problems’, in line with Llwybr Newydd (new path), the Wales Transport Strategy. Earlier this year, the Welsh Government froze new road building schemes.
The Llanbedr Access Road scheme was being taken forward by Gwynedd Council with £7m funding from Welsh Government. Mr Waters said that as the scheme is at an advanced stage of preparation, the panel chair was asked to ‘fast-track’ its review of the scheme.
A view across Llanbedr airfield towards Cardigan Bay and the Llyn Peninsula
Llanbedr is within Snowdonia National Park on the A496 between Barmouth and Harlech, while Llanbedr Airfield is about 1.5km west of the village.
The proposed scheme is a 1.5km north-south bypass to the west of Llanbedr, with a grade-separated junction at Mochras Road to provide access from the bypass to the airfield. The most recent (2018) cost estimate for the scheme is £15m.
According to Dr Sloman’s report, the primary purpose of the scheme is to provide increased access for cars and HGVs to Llanbedr Airfield in order to facilitate development of the site. ‘However, there is also an implied (but not explicitly stated) secondary rationale to reduce the negative impact of traffic on Llanbedr.’
Mr Waters said: ‘The climate emergency makes it imperative that we avoid investment that increases carbon emissions, especially in the next 15 years when most cars on the road will still be petrol and diesel vehicles.
‘I have accepted the chair’s recommendations and Welsh Government will not support any further work on the current Llanbedr Access Road scheme.’
He added: ‘However, I am committed to providing funding for the development and implementation of an alternative package of measures to address the negative impact of traffic in Llanbedr and in other villages on the A496, whilst also encouraging modal shift and reducing CO2 emissions. The package can also consider access requirements to the airfield to support associated developments.’
Mabon ap Gwynfor AS, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said he was ‘livid’ with the decision, which he described as ‘nothing more than a cynical stunt’.