CEO Comtek Network Systems UK Ltd and chair, Deeside Business Forum

Welsh Government appointed a small group of university professors and consultants to advise on how it should invest in Wales' future road infrastructure. The report was officially published on February 14, 2023. Welsh Government has accepted this report and already announced its adoption for all its future road investments in Wales.

The decision to adopt the recommendations of a handful of doctors, professors and consultants and therefore ignore the Welsh Government's previous commitments and promises, is very concerning.

Read more: Politicians react as 'red route' plan scrapped

In 2017, after very thorough and detailed due diligence and a public consultation in Flintshire, the Welsh Government made a public announcement to invest in a bypass dual carriageway road linking Deeside Industrial Park to the A55 at Northop. As a result of this announcement, many businesses planned their future investments based on this commitment.

Construction of this road, which was named the Red Route, would have reduced congestion on the A494 and reduced pollution around Queensferry and Aston. It would have made it easier for tourists to travel via the Red Route to Northwest Wales, hence supporting the tourism industry. It would have encouraged more foreign inward investment and given a great boost to North Wales' economy.

Read more: Wildlife Trust on why scrapping red route plan will be of 'benefit'

A world-class organisation, Rolls Royce, has recently short-listed Deeside as one of the potential locations for its SMR manufacturing. All their manufactured reactors would be transported via road to potential regions such as Anglesey and Trawsfynydd for deployment. This is just one good example of how Governments must be very careful about scraping their well-publicised infrastructure decisions and promises without consulting the business communities.

The recent announcement to scrap the Red Route, based on the advice of a handful of people not from North Wales, is economically suicidal and politically naive, and has already created division within Welsh Labour.

Read more: Politicians praise red route axing - but concerns over transport go on

How can the business community and investors trust Welsh Government's future investment plans when they are prepared to ignore the local community and readily drop and dismiss their own promises? Welsh Government's logic that Wales has a Net Zero environmental commitment by 2050 and that new roads will attract more vehicles is nonsense.

After 2030 manufacturers will not be allowed to manufacture petrol and diesel-based cars. By 2050 all cars on the roads will be electric or hydrogen-based, hence they will be using green energy. In 2017 Deeside Business Forum launched a consultation throughout the business community asking local businesses to vote on their preferred option of building the Red Route or radically improving the A494 road (called the Blue Route). The business community overwhelmingly voted for the Red Route.

Read more: Prime Minister welcomes multi-billion pound Air India, Airbus and Rolls-Royce deal

Local businesses are disappointed and very angry that their preferred choice of route is now going to be scrapped. They are now asking the Welsh Government to devolve all the decision-making power and its allocated budget for all road building to the six local authorities under the umbrella of Ambition North Wales.

We believe the North Wales local authorities have the local knowledge, have local roots and are therefore better positioned to come up with much better decisions than the Welsh Government which relies on out-of-touch academics and consultants who have no local connections in North Wales.

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Our small businesses and communities are facing huge challenges with the cost of living, energy and high-interest rates. This was the worst time to damage our economy in the interests of political dogma and purism.

The Deeside Business Forum has launched a petition on Welsh Government's online petition Website and we urge as many people as possible to vote for it. We need at least 10,000 votes in order to take this demand for a debate to the Welsh Senedd.

I urge all the councillors, Members of the Senedd, MPs and businesses to encourage their constituents and staff to vote for this petition. We need to demonstrate our unity and determination, regardless of political differences, to overturn the Welsh Government's recent unwise decision and devolve responsibility for all future road building in North Wales to North Wales.