A MAJOR campaign has been launched to scrap plans for the Red Route due to environmental concerns.

The Welsh Government scheme for the A55 in Flintshire includes a new eight-mile stretch of dual carriageway and other improvements and modifications, which also includes upgrades to the A548 over Flintshire Bridge between Connah's Quay and the Wirral and a new link to the A55 at Northop.

Detailed planning and construction of the scheme is due to start in 2023.

However, 15 organisations have come together with local residents and local politicians to call on the Welsh Government to scrap plans for the new "climate threatening" four lane highway through ancient woodland and farmland that includes parkland and wildflower meadows.

The campaign is being supported by environmental and farming organisations Coed Cadw Woodland Trust, North Wales Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Trusts Wales, The Welsh Ornithological Society, CPRW (Clwyd Branch), Plantlife Cymru, Sustrans and the National Farmers’ Union (Clwyd and Montgomeryshire).

Others supporting it are Clwyd Beekeepers, Wildlife Trusts South and West Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Holywell Transition Group, while the signatories to the letter include the naturalist and TV presenter Iolo Williams.

The campaign claims that the Red Route scheme contradicts the Welsh Government's commitment to a reduction to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in just 30 years’ time, and has also cited the spiralling costs of the scheme which had jumped to £300million in 2019.

There are further concerns that significant costs have yet to be included in the current £300 million total. These include those associated with the necessary land purchase and the weatherproofing of the Flintshire Bridge, which regularly has to close in windy weather.

The Leader: (Image - Welsh Government)(Image - Welsh Government)

The Red Route choice has been widely criticised for a range of reasons with over 1,500 people signing a petition to the Assembly petitions committee opposing the road last summer.

A major criticism is that the scheme is said to fail to address on-going weekend and bank holiday traffic issues around Northop and through Flint.

Moreover, the Red Route will feed traffic onto the A55 at the bottom of Halkyn Hill, a major choke point on the A55, further exasperating these traffic problems.

The Red Route is opposed by both Flint Town Council and Northop Community Council and is only supported by Flintshire County Council on the proviso that significant addition road improvements are carried out ahead the start on the Red Route.

At an evidence session Flintshire County Council Deputy Leader Carolyn Thomas told the Assembly Petitions committee that the support of the local authority was dependent on significant other work, including a crawler lane up Halkyn Hill be carried out before the Red Route construction. She even demanded an assurance that the crawler lane work would be done in writing from the minister. We are now aware that this assurance has been.

Iolo Williams, Naturalist and TV presenter, said: “Last year the Welsh Government quite rightly declared a Climate Emergency and cancelled the dreadful M4 Relief Road.

"But here in North Wales they’re still pushing ahead with an appalling road scheme that would destroy irreplaceable ancient woodland and that totally disregards the need to build back better following the pandemic. The Welsh Government needs to think again.”

Northop Community Councillor Linda Scott said: “Speaking as someone who regularly commutes to Manchester, this road scheme fails to tackle the fundamental problems associated with heavy holiday traffic in the area. The position of the new interchange is at the bottom of the main chock point, the Halkyn Hill, will only make the gridlock in Northop and Flint worse.”

Local Farmer Robert Hodgkinson: “Despite the fact that this proposed road will be ploughed through my farm, including ancient woodland, the minister Ken Skates declined invitations to visit the proposed route before he chose this route. Since the route was chosen none of the farms or businesses directly affected by this new road have even been contacted by his department.

"This is an insult to those whose livelihoods and homes will be decimated by this massive undertaking.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are continuing with the development of the Flintshire corridor improvement and are investigating options for a crawler lane on the A55 near Halkyn and considering modifications to junctions in the Ewloe area.

"This project must be seen as part of the wider work to improve the transport infrastructure across North Wales, which includes investment in a North Wales Metro scheme."