All you need to know on plans to change most 30mph speed limits to 20mph in Wales

Key details of plans to change the majority of speed limits from 30mph to 20mph across Wales, have been revealed by the Welsh Government. They include costs, savings, timescales and the level of enforcement drivers can expect if the changes are given the green light.

The government has also shared its learnings from the 20mph pilot schemes which were recently introduced in eight areas of Wales, including Buckley in Flintshire, reports Wales Online.

If approved by the Senedd, following a debate on July 12, the new law would see 20mph set as the national default speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets. The plans would affect 30mph roads with streetlights fewer than 200 yards apart, though there would be some exceptions.

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The changes, aimed at preventing accidents and improving air quality, would come in on September 17 next year. Over the next 30 years the estimated costs total £33million but the government expects there to be savings of £58million from lower use of emergency services and hospital treatment — a net saving of £25million.

Enforcement measures being trialled vary across the pilot areas in St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire; Llanelli North in Carmarthenshire; St Brides Major in Vale of Glamorgan; central-north Cardiff; Cilfrew Village in Neath Port Talbot; Abergavenny in Monmouthshire; Severnside in Monmouthshire; and Buckley in Flintshire.

The government wants to encourage changes in behavior before moving to speeding tickets. It says it is in agreement with police forces and the GoSafe speed camera service that there should be a period of education before drivers are penalised for going over the limit. Some drivers who are pulled over would be given the chance to sit with a police officer or firefighter and receive 15 minutes of roadside education, instead of getting a ticket.



The plans are set to be discussed at the Senedd

There is no timescale for enforcement to begin but it is unlikely that a high number of speed cameras will be introduced — the government is not increasing its annual £2.5million funding to GoSafe. Roadside education has played a big part in the south Wales pilot areas and we understand it will soon be implemented in the north Wales zones. To a large extent, the onus to change will be on drivers.

Will more buses and drivers be needed to maintain the current frequency of services? The government says it is still working through this issue but its modeling shows there would be some slowdown — mostly at off-peak times. We understand the trials will be allowed to progress further before any decisions are made.

What about exemptions? These are unlikely to be based on driver frustrations, but instead on factors like whether a road has more than 20 properties per kilometer. Exceptions would not typically be allowed for roads near schools, community centers and hospitals.

Ultimately, though, these are not cast-iron rules from the Welsh Government — they are guidance for a local authority to decide on. The decision will only lie with the government when it comes to trunk roads.

What do you think of the plans to change the speed limit in Wales? Let us know in the comments section

And what have been the learnings from the pilots so far? The government believes they have shown the importance of engaging with communities about the new rules, giving expertiseside education and drawing on local when it comes to exemptions.

As for claims of “traffic chaos” in pilot areas such as Buckley and Severnside, the government believes it is inevitable there will be a period of adjustment as Wales shifts away from a transport system dominated by cars, and towards one where space is shared by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

From just over 6,000 responses in last year’s consultation over the scheme, 53% of people said they were against the lower default limit while 47% were in favour. Reasons for opposition included longer journey times, increased congestion and concerns it could “annoy” drivers.

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