Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Seven-lane highway plan abandoned

The A494 road in Flintshire
The A494 road in Flintshire

Controversial plans for a seven-lane highway in Flintshire have been abandoned, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced.

The planned widening of a 2.5 mile stretch of the A494 road at Queensferry meant tenants living nearby had to be rehoused.

A public inquiry was held into the Drome Corner to Ewloe Road scheme by an independent inspector last September.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones confirmed the scheme has been scrapped.

Mr Jones, who is also transport minister in the assembly government, said: "In reaching my decision I have taken account of the concerns raised by the inspector that the overall size of the scheme would have a significant impact on the landscape and would affect walking and cycling routes.

Location map
The A494 stretch involved is from Ewloe to just beyond Queensferry

"I have also noted his remarks that while he considers that this section of the A494 will need some form of improvement in the foreseeable future, he considers that the scale of the scheme as originally proposed is greater than required."

Some 2,700 objections were received and a public inquiry into the scheme cost nearly 87,000, according to the assembly government.

There were strong protests against the road-widening scheme, which would raise the speed limit from 50mph to 70mph, would increase traffic and noise and "tear the heart out of the community".

Homes nearby were compulsorily purchased by the assembly government when plans to widen the road were revealed in January 2007.

The assembly government said it was helping tenants find new homes. Families were being given priority alternative accommodation through the local authority, but three people still remained in their homes last autumn.

Protestors' placards
Around 150 people joined a protest against the plans in January

The A494 links the A55 with the north west of England, bypassing places like Ewloe, Aston and Queensferry.

The assembly government said congestion was already an issue along the route and would increase without the road-widening.

North Wales Conservative AM Brynle Williams said: "Abandoning this superhighway was the right thing to do. It is something many people have called on the government to do for some time.

"The assembly government now needs to work with local councils in the area to come up with workable, sensible alternative proposals to solve traffic congestion in the area."

Alyn and Deeside Labour AM Carl Sargeant added: "This is great news for local residents.

"The proposed changes to the road would have had a terrible impact on the quality of life of local people and the environment here. It is the right decision."

Friends of the Earth Cymru transport campaigner Neil Crumpton said emissions from transport had to be tackled.

"This can't be done by building more roads, which will only ever create more traffic," he said.

Here are some of your views of the decision not to continue with the road plans:

It is ridiculous to scrap this scheme. This road is grossly overloaded and the number of residents widening this road would affect is tiny. The Welsh assembly are pathwtic - bowing to a relatively small number of protests. The number of regular users of the road, the congestion problem, the dangerous state of the road as it is, exta fuel burnt sitting in traffic jams etc far outweigh any protest. Typical weak government from distant politicians out of touch with reality and cave in to a minority who are misguided and ill informed.
Tax payer and road user, Ruthin

This road is already the major transport link into North Wales. Improvements were not going to threaten virgin countryside. A vocal minority have swayed politicians too weak to lead effectivly.
Andy, Mold, Flintshire

I agree, I am a frequent user of the A494 from and to the M56. There is always congestion at busy periods, last weekend was a prime example. Ieuan Wyn Jones is typical of the government we have, weak and too concerned for votes than making the right decision.
Frequent Traveller, Halkyn, Flinstshire

As one of the road protesters, all I can say to the Assembly is: well done! You took notice of a very well researched campaign that was carried our with great care and dillgence by a very large number of people.

To the three people who have posted above I have a simple reply: get knotted, you wouldn't have to live in the vicinity of what was an overkill development which would also have been substantially damaging to the air quality of the immediate environment. If you did, I am sure you would have been singing a very different song.
John Gray, Ewloe

This is ridiculous, these people who protested are probably frequent users of this road and are sick of the congestion at peak times, but the NIMBYist approach isn't going to halp, and when any plans do go ahead in the future, theyre just going to create even more chaos like the ones just north of queensferry on the motorway at the moment! now i use the M53 around chester.
Mike, Llandudno

Why is it that the majority of people who are FOR the road plans don't actually live in the immediate area affected? I AGREE that the road needs improving as do most of the campaigners who objected, but, these plans went too far. The congestions IS a nightmare especially on bank holidays not just for people trying to leave wales along this road but for people living around it as the traffic effects all routes. Hopefully a new solution can be found from the number of alternative plans submitted that will ease the congestion for motorists along this route without having such a huge impact on the people living directly along side it.
Claire, queensferry, flintshire

Thank goodness for some common sense in the cancellation of a ridiculous project. The difference made to average journey times by any level of congestion on this short section of raod is not worthy of consideration . I cover the whole UK and I do so efficiently . There is no need for any expansion of the UK road network .
Alan Paterson, Wrexham, UK

I note that the persons objecting to the cancellation do not live in or around Ewloe, one in fact is from another county. Sensible planning would segregate M56 traffic into 2 distinct routes one for the Deeside industrial estate with it's new road improvements and the other onto the M53/A55 which should improve once the proposed Ewloe interchange is completed. It should also be asked why was a super bridge built across the Dee and not linked to the A55, this would probably have been in the area of Halkyn, See how frequent traveller would like that.
Ewloe Resident and Driver, Ewloe, Flintshire

The right decision has been made. On one hand with increasing oil costs, which will hopefully put a cap on the spiralling demand for road space, this may have been a white elephant in a decade. On the other hand with the proven effect of road improvements generating more road traffic the benefit would have been lost within ten years. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Hopefully (unlikely) the money saved will be spent on local public transport schemes. As for the UK-wide situation the road building madness has to stop
Another (sane) tax payer, Saughall, England

Another example of a few nimbies controlling a weak government, from what I read already homes have been subject to a CPO and people have moved out. The road will never cope with the extra traffic once the Dunkirk roadworks have finshed. We in Wales need decent roads for jobs and growth of the ecomomy and for years lagged behind England
Andy Field, Prestatyn

This proposal has been rumoured for years, and when it finally looked like something it was going to come out of it they've backed out. The layout now is terrible, going from a 2 lane carriage way to a 3 lane carriage way near the Shotwick lights for less than a mile and then back to a 2 lane carriage way. That causes congestion itself and I thought it was only temporary, but now we're stuck with it. it's a terrible decision, it doesn't make sense with the industrial estate expanding all the time.
Paul, Mancot

Oh well, another ten years for them to think of something else now - whilst I appreciate the impact on local residents, this road does need to be improved. I have lived in the area all of my Forty years, and for as long as I can remember it has been a pain in the during peak times. Now millions have been spent further down the road, and the extra traffic will just back up on the Aston and Ewloe areas, as these will not be improved for years. Wonder how the residents will feel then with increased pollution from sitting traffic, and not being able to get onto the road themselves. I am not a poster from another area - this road is my daily commute and a flipping nuisance!
ME, Connahs Quay, Deeside

Whether or not you support the (aborted) proposals, surely we should be asking who sanctions the wasted expenditure? To have local politicians (from both major parties) fighting against the scheme suggests the proposals weren't sponsored by the local council - yet the Assembly has found in favour of the local protest group. So who was behind the scheme in the first place, and how much public money have they effectively poured down the drain?
Richard Clarke, Chester

Well done, common sense at last, let hope that this sustainable long term thinking will last instead of a quick and cheap fix for everything. The A55 upgrade was the worst thing that happened to us here in North West Wales, towns like Caernarfon has virtually collapsed at the expense of places like Chester and Llandudno.

What is needed is a proper sustainable transport system, such as trains or a MAGLEV system throughout Wales and the rest of these islands, not daft pre historic transportation system as we have now, thats dependent on diminishing resourses such as oil.
Ifor Williams, Caernarfon, Cymru

The problem now is that ANOTHER solution will have to be found, either increasing the amount of lanes already there (which will no doubt incense all you NIMBYs further) or put the road somewhere else, which will incense another lot of NIMBYs!! The fact of the matter is that there is already a road there, and its too congested for the volume of traffic it receives. The work needs to be done to this road, and I for one am disgusted that the project has been scrapped. And YES, I DO live in the area!!!!
James Stevens, Deeside

This road is the gateway into North Wales and the pathetic decision will hold back the economic development of this already backward area for decades to come. Meanwhile jobs will increasingly go to areas with better transport links than here. I hope the NIMBYs are proud of themselves.
Dave, Birkenhead

I dont understand why this scheme has been cancelled, the additional 4 lanes would have improved the transport network, with no noticable affect on the local badger population.
Reverend Dave Gent, queensferry

I may not live in the area, but I visit regularly as I have an elderly relative there. All I can say is why? This road is really needed, since during the summer there can be traffic jams lasting hours . The drome corner improvements have helped, but what's needed is an overhaul of the whole A494. Not necessarily 7 lanes, but more lanes and a better condition road. Also, the people from Aston don't in my opinion have a great case, from what I can see driving around it, it's no rural idyll, it's a rundown council estate that really needs to be renovated. Or bulldozed, whichever's cheaper!
Phil, Manchester

The lack of decent roads into Wales is one reason why large parts of Wales are the most economically deprived in Europe and decisions like this will ensure the situation continues. Perhaps they are angling for some juicy grants from the EU.
Hal, Liss, Hampshire

This decision makes the current widening going on at the top of the M56 pointless and will just increase the pressure to do something about what will now be the one missing link.

A regular user, I'm with the people of Ewloe. The real solution would be for everyone to use the M53/A55 and go South of Chester, but the money should have been spent reprioritising the traffic at the A55/A494 junction for this to happen.
Simon Ramm, Bucks

I think it is the wrong decision to scrap the plans, however from the plans i had viewed, the solution would only of pushed the bottleneck of traffic coming from the M56 further up past the mold junction

what is needed is a complete overhaul of the A494/A55 network!

Also, this makes the 3 lane stretch between the deeside junction redundant, so that was a waste of tax payers money.... sort it out!
Iestyn Williams, Mold

video and audio news
One of those against the plans gives her reaction to news it will not go ahead.

End of the road for long campaign
27 Mar 08 |  North East Wales
Public inquiry over road widening
19 Mar 07 |  North East Wales
Musical protest at road-widening
23 Jan 07 |  North East Wales
Protest over road-widening plans
10 Jan 07 |  North East Wales
Meeting told of fears over road
19 Aug 06 |  North East Wales


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