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Welsh Labour Government ‘inability to implement’ its own active travel laws condemned

Today, the Welsh Labour Government will face criticism from Assembly Members of all parties – including its own – for failing to live up to the promises it made in its own Active Travel Act.

AMs will call on the Welsh Government to “refresh its ambition for active travel in Wales by producing a comprehensive active travel strategy including ambitious targets and a detailed plan for long term investment in active travel infrastructure”.

The motion, laid down by Welsh Labour’s Huw Irranca-Davies has been co-sponsored by other AMs from his own party as well as the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and an independent.

They will argue that each of the following issues could be “ameliorated” if the 2013 Act was “effectively implemented”:

  • young people in Wales have some of the lowest levels of physical activity in the UK, contributing to rising levels of obesity and associated health issues such as diabetes 2;
  • several communities in Wales suffer from illegally high levels of air pollution, with one community experiencing the worst air quality outside London;
  • congestion on the roads is estimated to cost the Welsh economy £2bn every year;
  • targets for carbon emissions from transport in Wales have consistently not been met;
  • levels of walking and cycling in Wales are in decline, with falling levels of active travel to school being a particular concern.

The Welsh Conservative co-sponsor of the debate, Shadow Transport Minister Russell George AM, said:

“I am glad to see that a cross-party alliance built to support the Active Travel Act has matured into one designed to properly scrutinise the Welsh Government on the issue.

“The fact that the Welsh Labour Government’s Act has been law for over five years and they have since failed to make any significant progress makes a mockery of its own legislation.

“The ambitions behind the Act – to reduce pollution, improve people’s fitness, and relieve the cost of congestion – are supported by all parties and have huge public support.

“The Act has very good intentions, but there is a lack of political will and imagination within the Welsh Government to see it through to the end.”