In its response to the consultation on the draft Wales Freight Strategy, the Freight Transport Association has praised the Welsh Assembly Government for recognising the vital role that the freight industry plays in the Welsh economy. Freight logistics accounts for some 6 per cent of employment in Wales and contributes approximately £2.5 billion to the Welsh economy – a clear indication of the role of freight in wealth creation in Wales.
Stephen Kelly, FTA Head of Policy for the Midlands, Wales and South West said, 'In 2005, nearly 125 million tonnes of goods were moved by road either within Wales, or between Wales and the rest of the UK. This figure is forecast to increase for the foreseeable future and a long–term vision is needed to facilitate this growth. The Wales Freight Strategy, once finalised, will provide this vision. It is clear to all that we need to ensure that effective transport links are developed in order to provide a vibrant and modern freight network in Wales. Such links will make an important contribution to the Welsh economy and will improve the nation's quality of life by allowing the free movement of people and goods. At the same time, improvement to the transport infrastructure in Wales will attract inward investment, making Wales an attractive place to do business.
'What is therefore needed in Wales is a strategic freight network which will deliver a modern, efficient freight transport system. It is well documented in Wales that north/south links through the heart of the country are of a poor quality and that improvements need to be made to routes such as the A470 and A483. If such improvements were undertaken, this would then remove the need for Welsh operators to use the congested motorways in England like the M5 and M6.
'One of the key aims of the Wales Freight Strategy is to support Welsh industry and commerce by providing a reliable and cost efficient network for raw materials, manufactured and consumer goods. FTA welcomes such positive comments from the Welsh Assembly Government. The question now is whether the finance is available to back up such statements.'
The Freight Transport Association represents the interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight. FTA's website can be found at www.fta.co.uk