A vision for how freight transport across Mid Wales and the Marches could be improved to support economic development and operational efficiency was launched on Wednesday 21 February.

The Growing Mid Wales Partnership and The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, together with the Welsh Government and councils on both sides of the border, jointly commissioned the new strategy. It includes recommendations on how to improve the experience of businesses moving freight within and through the region, whilst enhancing the quality of life for residents near to key freight corridors and reducing environmental impacts. Both rail and road options are included.

The launch of the strategy in Welshpool marks a high point in an on-going collaboration between the two regions which started in 2016. As a collaborative process, the commissioning and development of the strategy has been managed by a steering group of officers from both sides of the border. Growing Mid Wales is a regional partnership comprising of representative bodies from across the private, public and voluntary sector in mid Wales namely Ceredigion, Powys and South Gwynedd.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Chair of the Growing Mid Wales Partnership and Ceredigion County Council Leader, said, “Whether we’re considering a largely single carriageway road network and its impact on journey times and reliability; the effect of agricultural vehicles on the network; or the high levels of congestion experienced in many of our towns and villages, the picture is very similar on both sides of the border. Simply, good road and rail links are necessary for our businesses now and to support future growth both here in Mid Wales and in the Marches.”

If fully implemented, it is anticipated the strategy could provide benefits to operators of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) worth at least £149m. This would be achieved through a series of highway enhancements focused on increased opportunities for safe overtaking; improvements to alleviate bottlenecks; and changes at certain key locations to allow 44 tonne HGVs to operate across the whole of the freight network.

Councillor ap Gwynn, added: “It, therefore, made perfect sense to take a co-operative approach, consulting our businesses including freight operators, and our local communities, to better understand the shared barriers to economic growth and how we can work together to overcome them.”

The consultation process involved input from a wide range of businesses and local councils via online surveys; business workshops in Ludlow and Newtown; and telephone interviews with key shippers, road hauliers, infrastructure managers and policy-makers.

A full copy of the Marches and Mid Wales Freight Strategy can be found at: http://www.tracc.gov.uk/index.php?id=137&L=0 or http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/democracy/how-the-council-works-in-partnership/growing-mid-wales/

Image: Left to right: (1) Councillor Phillip Price, Herefordshire Council (2) Alun Jones of T.Alun Jones Ltd (3) Paul Hinkins, Vice Chair of Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (4) Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Chair of Growing Mid Wales Partnership and Leader of Ceredigion County Council (5) Rhodri Griffiths, Welsh Government’s Chief Regional Officer for Mid and South West Wales (6) Rosemarie Harris, Vice Chair of Growing Mid Wales Partnership and Leader of Powys County Council.