Ambitious plans detailing how the Welsh Government will act to deliver growth and jobs with a £15bn spend on roads, schools, hospitals, housing and other capital projects over the next decade have been published.
The Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan for Growth and Jobs gives a clear outline of the Welsh Government’s key priorities for major infrastructure projects and how they will look at innovative financing options to support their plans. It details how it will invest more than £3.5bn over the current spending review period and around £15bn over the next decade in capital projects.
It comes as the devolved government prepares for a savage reduction in its capital spending power. By 2014/15, the capital budget will be more than 40% lower in real terms than in 2010/11 and almost 50% lower than its peak in 2009/10. The plan says this means the government has to act now, not only to seek innovative ways of financing infrastructure investments but being very clear about our priorities and driving greater economy and efficiency.
The main aims of the plan are to:
- Identify and prioritise nationally significant infrastructure investment across the Welsh public sector. This includes social as well as economic infrastructure, focusing resources on the highest priority schemes which will deliver the most benefit
- Provide a 10 year indication of the Welsh Government’s ‘direction of travel’ and a rolling pipeline of approved investments. This will provide greater clarity and certainty to our delivery partners, particularly the private sector, over our medium and longer-term priorities. The pipeline will focus on ministerial approved projects and programmes with a total project value greater than £15M. It will be updated regularly
- Utilise innovative financing approaches wherever appropriate to increase resources available to invest in infrastructure priorities
“We are a government committed to the provision of infrastructure and the creation of jobs. We want to take every opportunity to increase capital investment, despite the severe cuts in our budget,” said first minister Carwyn Jones.
The plan outlines seven high level priorities, including improving the transport network and supporting the development of the energy industry in Wales. Investing in housing, hospitals and schools is also a priority.
The plan also outlines new, innovative ways of financing major projects such as the Local Government Borrowing Initiative and support for a Welsh Housing Bond to increase the supply of affordable homes. But it accepts more work is needed to build on these developments to find funding to bring forward other investment.
Investment in roads is a key feature of the plan, particularly because highways investment is completely devolved. Rail investment and investment in flood and coastal defence is still controlled by the Westminster government.
Key milestones for major roads infrastructure investments in future years include:
2012 – 2013
- Appoint contractors to take forward the A483 in Newtown.
- Progress the integrated transport measures to improve the A470 and A483 through Builth Wells and plan longer term intervention (beyond 2015).
- Commence planned improvements to:
- – A465 Heads of the Valleys Road, section 3 Brynmawr to Tredegar
- – A477 St Clears to Red Roses
- – Complete A4226 Five Mile Lane
- Review the study on the transport issues in the area between Wrexham, Deeside and Chester.
2013 – 2014
- Commence delivery of M4 Magor to Castleton post stakeholder engagement options.
- Improvements to M4 Junction 28 Tredegar Park.
2014 – 2015
- Start A465 Heads of the Valleys Road, section 2 Gilwern to Brynmawr.
In addition, the M4 Corridor Enhancement Measures (CEM) programme is examining the options for improvement of the M4 strategic corridor, enhancing its ability to cope with current journey levels and enable more journeys to be made than are now. The M4 CEM programme aims to make travel in south Wales safer, easier and more reliable, through a combination of public transport, highway infrastructure and common measures.
The Welsh Government is seeking views from stakeholders and the public on the improvement options, as part of the M4 CEM Formal Consultation, between March and June 2012. It will be making a formal announcement of how this will be progressed in due course.