Toll Road on A470 debate: Conservatives against, Plaid Cymru for!
There has been recent media attention surrounding the Welsh Government’s survey of residents on the potential for toll roads on the A470 at Upper Boat and the M4 at the Brynglas tunnels.
The survey and the prospect of tolls roads has likely come as a response of the Welsh Government, after they were taken to court by campaigners – Client Earth – for failing to tackle pollution levels.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said at the time the situation was "more complicated than originally thought".
In a recent Senedd debate on traffic measures Joel James MS, and Heledd Fychan MS, who both represent South Wales Central, spoke about their views with regards to toll roads.
Leading the debate Joel told the chamber about the devasting consequences a toll road would have for the lowest earners who would pay disproportionately more of their income to use the roads. He also remarked about how it was the very richest who can afford newer cars and electric vehicles and so the poorest would always be disadvantaged by toll roads.
Joel added that the tolls would not actually solve the air quality issue, as it would push drivers to go around the tolls causing more traffic on smaller roads and ultimately worsen air quality there.
During the debate Heledd said:
“And although I've expressed concerns earlier in terms of tolls on the A470, I'm not opposed to the concept of tolls or radical action if it is in a broader context”.
“air pollution can impact on neurodevelopment and cognitive abilities and lead to asthma and cancer in children. Also, children brought up in areas with high levels of air pollution can be at greater risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, later in life”.
Speaking afterwards Joel James commented:
“I was very surprised to hear Heledd speak so candidly about supporting the tolls roads, because locally she been highlighting her strong opposition to them”
“It makes you wonder, now that Plaid are looking to go into some form of coalition with Welsh Labour, how many of their policies they will abandon, saying one thing and doing another.”
“Addressing the poor air quality issue is of the greatest importance and the government should be looking to implement innovative solutions, such as SMOG free towers that can clean up to 3.5 million cubic meters of air per day.”
“I can confidently say that I and the Welsh Conservatives will fight to stop any tolls roads in Wales. I believe that Welsh Labour have got this wrong. Charging the poorest people to encourage them to drive less is a bizarre policy at best and a callous policy at worst”.