‘No plan’ for car-free future in Wales, according to Plaid Cymru

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By Rimante Bivainyte

Plaid Cymru AM has stated that Welsh Government has ‘no plan’ to prepare for diesel and petrol car-free future. UK government announced that new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned from 2040. However, Plaid Cymru environment spokesman SImon Thomas noted that Welsh ministers were ‘off the pace’ in the development of alternatives such as public transport and cycling to deal with the upcoming change.

The Welsh Government mentioned that it is looking at particular measures to support this new law of petrol and diesel vehicles being banned. Mainly, road taxes, fuel duty and vehicle standards being handled by the UK government, but roads and policies around cycling and walking are in the Welsh Government’s hands.

Mr Thomas talked about countries such as Denmark and France which had ‘huge diesel pollution problems’, however, now have started and continuing to tackle this issue by implementing various policies and changes. In Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, more than half the people cycle to work on bike lanes that cover more than 200 miles. A former member of the city’s council’s administration, Klaus Bondan, said that this change was the result of almost 100 years of investment. “I would suggest the Welsh politicians to stand up and say ‘we would like this development to start, we would like it to continue, and we would like to hand it on to the next generation’,” he said.

Welsh Conservatives’ environment spokesman David Melding took a note that Wales has more ambitions in offering alternatives to the car vehicles. ‘We don’t want to be completely car-free. Some access is going to be required,’ he said.

In 2013, Welsh Government passed a legislation called Active Travel Act which placed an obligation on councils to constantly improve routes for cyclists and pedestrians. Dr Justin Spinney, from Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, mentioned that the act showed “a real commitment to more liveable sustainable places”. Nonetheless, he said that to motivate people out of their cars is a great struggle due to the fact that car is ‘the benchmark of comfort, convenience and sociability’.