The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the official launch of the Wales Freight Strategy this week by the Deputy First Minister for Wales, Ieuan Wynn Jones. However, it has warned that early progress needs to be made in turning its fine words and aspirations into improvements to infrastructure and access. The Strategy sets out a long-term vision for supply chains servicing the Welsh economy. Many of the 49 steps set out in the strategy are aimed at reducing the overall environmental impact of freight transport through modal shift or efficiency measures. For its goals to be met, the logistic industry, local authorities, Welsh Assembly Government and Treasury all have an important contribution to make.
Stephen Kelly, FTA's Head of Policy for Wales said, 'Industry has already demonstrated its commitment to the relationship. It is already focussed on using alternative modes to road where this is commercially viable, investing in the cleanest vehicles and ensuring its drivers receive regular training. However, other stakeholders must not jilt it at the altar. Many of the Strategy's steps which will create enduring improvements cannot be delivered by industry alone.
'Wales needs better North–South links if operators are to avoid using circuitous routes using English motorways and trunk roads. East–West links need to be upgraded too. Pinchpoints on the M4 need to be alleviated through widening and junction capacity improvements. Where this is not possible, use of the hard shoulder as a running lane at peak times of the day should be permitted under strictly enforced Active Traffic Management rules.
'Freight Quality Partnerships are working effectively in other parts of Britain to allow industry and local authorities to devise local solutions, reducing the impact of delivery lorries accessing urban areas. Yet these arrangements are non-existent in Wales. They have potential to alleviate congestion not only in the major urban conurbations of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, but also in smaller towns where lorries are unnecessarily intrusive for local residents.
'The role of Wales as a transit country for freight movements to and from Ireland must also not be ignored. Through road freight traffic needs to be managed effectively. At the moment it is creating pressure on key road corridors where driver facilities are limited or non-existent. New facilities need to be planned and built. Effective enforcement of drivers' hours and roadworthiness standards for foreign vehicles are also needed on these routes to make sure the roads do not present a higher safety risk to other road users.'
FTA was instrumental in setting up the Wales Freight Group, which provided much of the impetus and contributed to the vision set out in the Strategy.
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport 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