A vision for how freight transport across the Marches and Mid Wales could be improved to support economic development and operational efficiency, as well as realise financial benefits worth £149 million, was launched at an event attended by dignitaries in Welshpool.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and The Growing Mid Wales Partnership, together with the Welsh Government, Midlands Connect and councils on both sides of the border, jointly commissioned the new strategy.

It includes recommendations on how to improve the experience of businesses moving freight within and through the region, whilst enhancing the quality of life for residents near to key freight corridors and reducing environmental impacts. Both rail and road options are included.

If fully implemented, it is anticipated the strategy could provide benefits to operators of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) worth at least £149m. This would be achieved through a series of highway enhancements focused on increased opportunities for safe overtaking; improvements to alleviate bottlenecks; and changes at certain key locations to allow 44 tonne HGVs to operate across the whole of the freight network.

The launch of the strategy marks a high point in an on-going collaboration between the two regions which started in 2016.

Vice-chair of the Marches LEP, Paul Hinkins commented: “It’s easy to think that the experience of businesses here in the Marches is unique to us, but our neighbours in Mid Wales share many very similar challenges, as well as opportunities.

“When we first examined how the Marches and Mid Wales could work more closely with one another, improved transport links and cross border supply chains were both key considerations. We share several essential road links as well as an important rail infrastructure. It is, therefore, with much anticipation that we’re now here to launch this strategy.