THE COST of installing 50mph average speed cameras at five points around Wales – including on the M4 at Newport – has been revealed as the Welsh Government faces criticism over their effectiveness.

The cameras were installed on the M4 at Newport, as well as at Port Talbot, the A470 in Pontypridd, the A483 in Wrexham and the A494 in Deeside, to address issues of air pollution and congestion.

The cameras at Newport were extended to cover from junctions 24 for Malpas to 28 for Tredegar Park in March last year, but these were not switched on until last month – some 20 months later.

Now, the Welsh Government has faced criticism over the cost of installing the “unnecessary” cameras, with claims they are yet to have an impact in reducing emissions or congestion.

Responding to a written question from Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies, deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters denied that the 50mph limits had not had an impact on air quality.

“The cost to implement the speed cameras to enforce the 50mph for air quality purposes across the five locations in Wales was £3.34 million,” he said.

“We know enforcement of the speed limit is likely to be the quickest and most effective way to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

“Welsh Government have published data showing the efficacy of the 50mph limits in reducing NO2 levels.”

However, Welsh Conservative shadow transport minister Natasha Asghar said: “It drives me mad to see millions of taxpayer pounds frittered away on unnecessary speed cameras that is yet to demonstrate proof that they have lowered emissions or congestion.

“On these roads – especially the M4 near Newport – you’d be lucky to reach 50mph at some points as Labour fails to do anything to prevent congestion at the Brynglas Tunnels.

“So when the roads are quieter, it is infuriating to keep to 50mph on a motorway or dual carriageway.

“Instead of slowing Wales down like it is with default 20mph speed limits and the roadbuilding ban, maybe Labour should grip the wheel and get Wales moving again with a pro-growth, pro-business, pro-worker programme that works for drivers.”

The Welsh Government has published the air quality data collected at each of the five zones through 2021, which shows each of the five zones has seen a fall in nitrogen dioxide levels of at least 31 per cent between 2018 to 2021.

Air pollution levels on the M4 at Newport dropped from 63.5μg/m3 in 2018 – the highest out of the five clean air zones – to 39.2μg/m3 in 2021 – a 38 per cent fall.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The data clearly demonstrates the positive impact the reduced speed limits have had on air quality across all locations.”