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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
On Saturday 25 May, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth will be host to US radio star, Peter Greenberg.
- Industry and government plan for a healthy future for farming in Wales
- Historic garden is a breakfast TV star
- National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
Sky lanterns: environmental and risk assessment »To establish an evidence base to help any future policy decisions on sky lanterns and helium balloons.Learn more »
- Future management of private water supply pipes
- Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 and the Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- Consultation - Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2006 (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- Draft action plan for pollinators
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Oral - National Transport Plan
Assembly Members will recall that last year I published the Welsh Assembly Government’s transport strategy under the title 'Connecting the Nation’. The plan which is presented to you today details the action we intend to take in line with the strategy, and it is based on three key principles. The first principle is to meet the demand for enhanced mobility to enable economic growth and to improve quality of life for the people of Wales. The second is to put transport onto a more sustainable and less carbon-intensive path, and the third principle is to use transport funding more effectively in light of increasing pressures on public finances.
I am very grateful to the ministerial advisory group, led by Richard Parry-Jones, for their advice on the transport network and I have accepted the vast majority of their recommendations.
Transport is a consistent thread that contributes to the success of many Welsh Assembly Government strategies. Newly acquired powers have given us the opportunity to use that thread to weave together the patchwork of transport provision across the nation—from roads to railways, and buses to bicycles. However, more needs to be done. We must work towards a decarbonised transport system, in which people can choose more healthy and sustainable modes of travel.
That is why we are aiming to increase the number of people walking or cycling. In our programme for Sustainable Travel Towns, we will invest in new walking and cycling routes, and link existing ones. Across the wider network, we have plans to increase the provision of bicycle facilities on trains, at stations and in towns and cities.
We must develop our transport system to ensure that it continues to support economic prosperity, especially when we are faced with the global challenges of an economic downturn, as we are now. That means having a transport system that allows people to access services and which removes barriers for people seeking jobs, particularly in less prosperous areas.
The Eddington report stresses the importance of a long-term strategic outlook, which we have in 'Connecting the Nation’. It also points out that investment should be concentrated where economic success has concentrated demand, notably around urban areas, at international gateways and on busy inter-urban corridors, where congestion, delay and reliability are already real issues.
We must add to that our goal of spreading access to economic prosperity across Wales, particularly to the convergence areas from the north-west to the south Wales Valleys. We must ensure that areas and communities that lag behind because they have been hit by the decline of traditional industries can benefit from a resurgent economy.
The national transport plan sets out what we will be doing to put us firmly on the path to delivering the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision over the next five years. It is set out in a way that reflects the four main movement corridors in Wales, that is, the east-west corridor in the north, the mid and south corridors, and the north-south corridors, as well as proposals that are relevant across Wales.
The proposals for the main corridors share two aims: to improve the reliability, quality and speed of rail travel and to improve journey times and safety on the main trunk roads. The plan outlines how, in the north-west, we wish to address network and capacity issues on the A55, which will ensure more reliable journey times and will help to support the Môn a Menai regeneration programme. The work will include capacity for walkers and cyclists. In the north-east, we will identify the most appropriate and sustainable transport solutions to deal with pressures in the area between Wrexham, Chester and Deeside.
Our programme of continued improvements to north-south rail services will also improve east-west rail journeys in that region. We are committed to developing plans to enhance the capacity of the section of rail between Shrewsbury and Chester via Wrexham, enabling all north-south services to be routed through Wrexham. Our aim in relation to north-south links is to increase dramatically the proportion of journeys that are made by public transport by improving rail travel and the TrawsCambria bus network. Over time, we will see a better service, covering more communities, in greater comfort.
We have plans that will bring to an end the need for different tickets for different bus and rail journeys in Wales. A Welsh transport entitlement card will offer people the ability to have one ticket for their journey.
On north-south road links, I have outlined my priorities in the trunk road programme, which includes improvements to the A470, the A487 and the A483, and the completion of the Ceredigion link road. We are also examining opportunities for using two-plus-one lanes and passing lanes to improve north-south journey times, reliability and safety for cars, public transport, walkers and cyclists.
Improving connectivity in mid Wales, including east-west links, is an important factor if we are to enhance the vibrancy of towns and villages in these rural areas.
Work to enhance the Cambrian line by providing additional passing loops will be completed next year. That will allow us to introduce hourly services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury. We will also develop plans to introduce additional services on the Heart of Wales line.
Many of the improvements to the main road arteries in mid Wales were outlined in the trunk road programme, but we will also work with the UK Government to deliver the intervention identified for the A458.
On east-west rail links in south Wales, we are working with the UK Government and the rail industry to improve rail services, particularly on the Great Western main line between Swansea and London, with the ultimate goal of securing the electrification of that line as part of a high-speed rail network. I met Lord Adonis yesterday and had further positive discussions with him regarding the electrification of the Great Western main line as far as Swansea. Lord Adonis has indicated that he expects to be able to make an announcement on this shortly.
The transport plan commits to increasing the capacity of the Valleys lines, with additional platforms, carriages and services. That is in addition to the £3.2 million that we are contributing to new park-and-ride spaces along the south Wales rail routes. We also intend to integrate the development of cycle routes through the south-east Valleys. In Newport, we will complete both the redevelopment of the rail station and the improvements to Gaer junction to enable direct rail services between Ebbw Vale and Newport by 2011. That is a crucial development for the Heads of the Valleys regeneration scheme. Further west, we will redouble the railway line between Gowerton and Loughor. In planning for the longer term, we will look at the feasibility of reopening old railway lines as transport corridors. We should be innovative and not defined by the past: we should look to the potential for light rail and guided buses.
On the south Wales road network, we will complete improvements to the A465 Heads of the Valleys road by 2020, adhering to the exact timetable that I inherited. We will also start a programme of works to reduce journey times on the A40 and the A477. We will also fund the completion of the Port Talbot peripheral distributor road to reduce congestion on the M4 and the Church Village bypass.
As Members know, the Welsh Assembly Government wants to improve access to Cardiff Airport. We have consulted on a number of potential schemes. Following a study on potential routes to the airport, which highlighted the limited economic benefits to the airport itself when compared to the cost of the scheme and concerns around the environmental impact, I announce that we will not be taking forward these proposals. Instead, we will invest in improvements to the A4226—Five Mile Lane—which will help ease traffic movement at Weycock Cross and improve the safety of the road. I also announce that we will improve public transport access to Cardiff Airport, by creating more frequent bus and train services to connect the airport and Cardiff, as well as providing more convenient and regular trains between Bridgend and Barry.
The national transport plan sets out how we will resolve issues of capacity, safety and resilience along the M4 corridor in south-east Wales. In 2004, the Wales spatial plan identified the need to increase transport capacity along the M4 corridor. Subsequently, the new M4 scheme was included in the trunk road forward programme. The estimated cost of the scheme at that time was £340 million and the intention was that it would be taken forward as a public-private partnership, built with private finance, which would be recovered through tolling. Today, the cost of constructing the new M4 scheme with value added tax and potential inflation is estimated to be in the region of £1 billion, which means that the project has become unaffordable. The business case demonstrates that tolling the new M4, while other routes remain free to use, would significantly reduce the economic, environmental and social benefits of the project. The tolling of the new M4 alone would not raise the funds necessary for the scheme, and tolling both roads, in addition to the toll on the Severn crossings, would damage the attractiveness of south Wales as a location for investment. We have therefore decided that other methods of addressing the safety and capacity issues on the existing route and the other routes that are parallel to it represent better value for money and we will not be implementing the relief road scheme.
We do, however, accept the need to urgently address safety and capacity issues on the existing route and I can announce today that that work will be accelerated. Over the next two years, we will seek to introduce a range of measures, which will include new rail facilities and stations within the Newport area and the introduction of park-and-ride sites throughout south-east Wales. Secondly, there will be improvements and modifications to motorway junctions to ease the movement of local traffic while ensuring that long-distance traffic flows freely, and, thirdly, there will be enhancements and improvements to the local road network and a programme of personalised travel planning across south Wales to help achieve sustained behavioural change. Through these measures, we will seek to tackle congestion around the Tredegar Park area and reduce the traffic flows through the Brynglas tunnels. We will also explore making considerable improvements to the steelworks access road and the southern distributor road. To improve safety, we will install concrete central reserve barriers and introduce a controlled motorway infrastructure between junctions 24 and 29.
My message to businesses and the wider community is that this Government is committed to reducing congestion and restoring capacity and reliability to this absolutely vital east-west corridor. Today we pledge to do so in a way that is financially and environmentally sustainable and that improves the resilience of the road with urgency.
Transport plays a crucial role in uniting our country and ensuring economic prosperity, but we must get the balance right. We are no longer just being warned about climate change—we are starting to experience its impact. The period of economic growth that many of us have shared has ended with a jolt that we have all felt.
It is therefore important to be measured in our response. This sustainable, integrated transport plan will contribute to economic recovery; it will help people to get to jobs and access services and facilities where they might previously have struggled without a car. The plan will also help us to deliver our contribution to the environment, particularly our targets for emissions reductions, and will help us to create a sustainable, integrated transport system fit for twenty-first century Wales.