The Welsh Government should form a ‘Celtic Union’ to make the case for transport infrastructure improvements through North Wales.
That was the suggestion from Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates as he spoke in a debate in the Assembly.
The Labour AM said upgrades to the road, rail and ferry network across North Wales, which forms part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), needed strong backing from Cardiff, Stormont and Dublin.
He said the potential of North Wales to be a ‘bridge’ between mainland Europe and Ireland was enormous and that having a Celtic Union to lobby for infrastructure improvements such as electrification of the North Wales rail line and upgrade of the A55 was vital.
The AM has pledged to raise the issue with Irish parliamentary colleagues at a conference in Glasgow later this month.
Mr Skates said: “North Wales has huge potential to be a bridge between mainland Europe, UK and the island of Ireland. It forms a vital part of a strategic Trans-European transport route, the potential of which to lever in investment and new jobs has yet to be fully realised.
“The main North Wales rail line to Holyhead is a key part of a Trans-European rail route from Minsk to Galway. The A55 also forms part of the Trans European Road Network which links Ireland with the rest of the UK and Europe.
“The Welsh Government needs to engage with the Irish Governments to form a major lobbying force with which it can make a joint case for investment in renewing our transport infrastructure across North Wales.
“Infrastructure upgrades such as securing electrification of the North Wales mainline are amongst the most important strategic barriers to growth facing the region in the coming decades.
“Improvements to the road and rail network in North Wales are vital to ensuring the region is not left behind. The needs of North Wales when it comes to transport are slightly different to the rest of Wales and this needs to be recognised more effectively in government policy.
“A dynamic and joined-up lobbying operation with both the Welsh and Irish Governments making a focused business case for greater investment in the Trans European Transport Network would be a powerful tool. It could help bring jobs and hope back to North Wales and potentially lever in millions of pounds of private sector investment.”
“We’ve seen huge investment in South Wales through a commitment to electrify the Swansea to London and South wales valley lines as well as £500 million for a new western link into Heathrow. What we need to see now is a similarly ambitious and direct investment into the future of North Wales, too.”