DECISION DUE ON BYPASS
Announcement ‘this month’ after protests over long delay to relief road
WELSH Government officials will make an announcement about a long-awaited bypass later this month.
Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, was questioned about the delay about the Caernarfon bypass by Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price.
During questions to the minister in the Senedd in Cardiff, he asked him for an update on the delay. He also posed the question that the delay was due to the proposed M4 relief road taking up officials’ time, as well as Welsh Government expenditure.
Responding, Mr Skates said he would always urge caution before “pouring concrete into road projects as soon as possible” in AMs’ constituencies.
“That’s the reason we are setting up the National Infrastructure Commission to make informed decisions in a de-politicised way, with the assistance of experts. With regard to the Caernarfon bypass, this has taken up a considerable amount of resource in terms of the inspectorate and government officials’ time but I have sufficient to deal with this and the M4 and other projects.
“I will be making a decision in the coming three weeks on this particular programme. The reason it has taken time is due to the number of people who have engaged in the process of consultation.
“The inspector considered 20 expressions of support and 160 objections and 20 alternative routes were proposed. It’s absolutely right we uphold our statutory duties and give careful consideration to an inspec- tor’s report before a final decision.”
Last week, residents at Bontnewydd staged a protest by demanding a start date for work on the new bypass, which would create a new six-mile road between Caernarfon and Bontnewydd. Construction on the £90 million road was expected to start this autumn after a public inquiry ended, but, in March, the Welsh Government said it needed more time to consider the inspector’s report. Siân Gwenllian AM, who joined the protest with her Plaid Cymru colleague Hywel Williams MP, said some people fear the bypass will never be built.
She said: “Our constituents have waited long enough for a decision on this vitally important project, which will provide a boost to the local economy in Arfon. People are rightly fed up with perennial delays which have been compounded by dithering, indecision and lack of communication. What people want is real action and a straight answer as to when work on the bypass will start. We hope the Cabinet Secretary will now honour his commitment and finally confirm a start date within the promised three weeks.”
The news was greeted cautiously by residents in Bontnewydd.
One said: “It’s a step in the right direction and, hopefully, it will be good news with work scheduled to actually start.
“The contractors have been appointed and should have been on site two years ago and, under the original schedule, the bypass should have been opening later this year.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We understand residents want a decision on the Caernarfon/ Bontnewydd bypass, however, it is essential and absolutely right that sufficient consideration is given to all the evidence on what is a major project.
“We are considering in fine detail the findings and recommendations of the Inspector’s report and the high volume of correspondence in favour and against the proposals as part of the statutory process. It is vital all are fully evaluated and the Cabinet Secretary has committed to making a decision in the Spring.” ● Last week’s Herald published a story about the Caernarfon bypass which stated ‘the Welsh Government has been approached for a comment’. We are happy to clarify a comment was provided which appeared online but, regrettably, did not appear in the Herald newspapers due to a breakdown in communication. We apologise for the omission.
● Recent protests in Bontnewydd over delays to the long-awaited relief road
● Protesters in Bontnewydd protesting about the slow development of the new by pass.