Halting the Red Route: The Power of Community Activism

A Case Study of the Successful Campaign to Stop the Red Route and Shift Welsh Policy Towards More Environmentally Conscious Priorities


The cancellation of the Red Route project in Flintshire, Wales has been welcomed by many and provides a strong example of the power of public pressure and community activism in protecting local environments. Through the mobilization of their members and supporters, North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) and Stamp Out The Red Route were able to influence the Welsh Government’s decision-making to put the environment first. The success of their campaign also highlights the importance of resilience and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The Red Route Proposal

The proposed Red Route which aimed to alleviate congestion but would have caused severe damage to ancient Welsh woodlands, local farmlands, and native habitats. This damage would have been felt for decades to come, and the cost immeasurable. Despite this, alternative options such as the use of public transport, staggered start times for commuters, and building cycle lanes had not been explored.

Mobilization and Campaigning

NWWT and Stamp Out the Red Route rightly felt that these alternative options would cause far less damage to the environment and be easier to implement. The Red Route would have caused native species to lose access to their nesting grounds, and the introduction of traffic to a previously wild location would have brought about the possibility of road deaths for rabbits, foxes, badgers, and other native wildlife.

The campaign to prevent the development of the Red Route road began in 2017 when the NWWT and several local campaign groups launched objections to the local council. These objections not only revealed miscalculations on the cost of the proposed route, but also the lack of consultation with local people who would be adversely affected by the introduction of such a road. In 2020, NWWT connected with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), which, along with Sioned Davies, provided regular consultation to NWWT and Stamp Out The Red Route as they fought for the protection of their local environment.

Significance of the Campaign

For some, the success of the Red Route campaign is seen as a call-to-action to support other environmental movements , and to use their skills, resources and knowledge to protect habitats, species and landscapes from degradation. Going forward, campaigners hope to use the example of the Red Route to encourage a more sustainable approach to transport and infrastructure planning, and to reduce their negative impacts on the environment.

Outcomes and Implications

The cancellation of the Red Route project is a sign of progress, in many respects. It is a win for the environment, a success for the communities of Flintshire, and a reaffirmation of the importance of public community activism in protecting local habitats and ecosystems. In addition, the Welsh Government’s decision to halt construction sends a strong message to the rest of the UK that Wales will no longer accept proposals that are damaging to the environment, and that their commitment to protecting nature is stronger than ever.

The Red Route campaign has also inspired and invigorated activists across Wales to work together towards achieving more sustainable development, and towards creating a more equitable and environmentally conscious future. It is essential that we act on the lessons of this successful campaign, and continue to fight for environmental conservation and justice. This case study shows us the importance of community engagement and activism in achieving positive outcomes in the face of challenging odds.

Looking Forward

The success of the Red Route campaign should serve as a model for activists in Wales and beyond. It demonstrates that with collective action and strong leadership we can drive change that benefits both people and the environment. We must build on the success of this example and continue to fight for environmental conservation and justice. Calls for decision-makers to be held accountable for their actions, and for a demand for more environmentally conscious policies, must be kept alive in Wales, and across the UK.

The Red Route campaign is an important example of how public pressure can be leveraged to achieve positive outcomes, even in the face of daunting odds. Every community and organization involved in the campaign should be commended for their work and commitment. Ultimately, the Red Route campaign is a powerful testament to the power of collective action and community activism in protecting local environments and fighting for environmental justice. Going forward, this should serve as an inspiration to all those working for a more sustainable and equitable future.

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