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The Welsh Government has not banned road building – but it is raising the bar – and wants to work with all transport professionals to develop solutions that will facilitate modal shift, minimise embedded carbon, improve safety and increase the network’s resilience to climate change.
This was the key message of Peter McDonald, Director for Transport and Digital Connectivity at the Welsh Government speaking at the CIHT, CILT and ICE’s joint conference Design for Transport in Wales: A New Direction on 9 November.
He added that the Wales Roads Review published earlier in 2023, should be seen as a re-set. Ministers’ policy objectives have evolved in recent years, as reflected in the transport portfolio’s move to the Climate Change Ministry. -It is important that current priorities are reflected in the projects in its capital programme and the criteria that will be used to drive future decisions. Put another way, money remained in the capital programme for investment in roads but it will need to be spent differently.
Peter pointed to the importance of the WelTAG (Wales Transport Appraisal Guidance) process, which is in the process of being upgraded. It is vital that neither government nor its supply chain partners treat appraisal as bureaucratic hurdle to be overcome. If that happens, we will be generating information but offering no insight. Instead, we need serious analysis of the nature of transport problems and hard thinking about a broad range of possible solutions. In the coming years government and the professions need to collaborate to build a community of best practice around this work, which if successful will put Wales at the forefront of transport thinking.
Speaking later in the conference, CIHT Vice President and member of the Roads Review Panel Professor Glenn Lyons welcomed the leadership shown by Welsh Minister. Glenn also recognised the scale of the challenge ahead – both cultural and technical. Reflecting on the old adage that to a person with a hammer every problem looks like a nail, he joked that perhaps he Welsh Government have discovered screws – meaning we all have to get used to the idea of learning how to use a screwdriver. He also echoed many of the other speakers on the day by pointing to the opportunity to address the sector’s poor record on diversity. He reflected on his work as co-chair of the Roads Investment Scrutiny Panel and its conclusion that future decision making will need to draw on a much wider and more diverse range of expertise and perspectives if we want to be confident of delivering better economic, social and environmental outcomes for more people.
The conference was the first in an ongoing series of events bringing together professionals and government to tackle Wales’ post Roads Review transport policy objectives. If you are interested in receiving information on future events or would like to contribute please contact Andrew.email@example.com
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