COUNCILLORS have called for major funding to set up walking and cycling paths in Denbighshire.

Plans to build a cycle route from Ruthin to St Asaph, connecting to the path to Rhyl, and two paths from Denbigh to Henllan and Trefnant, were raised in 2013 and received community backing. However Denbighshire County Council could not give them the green light due to council cuts.

Denbighshire county councillors have now hit out at the Welsh Government after its decision to review its controversial £2billion plan to upgrade the M4 in Newport this month. They said that some of the funding should be allocated to cash-strapped county councils so that they can provide green routes instead.

Mark Young, Denbigh county councillor and lead member for corporate standards, said: “Residents should be able to cycle from Ruthin to Rhyl safely, for leisure or work. If the Welsh Government is serious about declaring a climate emergency, then it needs to give funding to local authorities. Its disastrous plan to upgrade the M4 shows that it has money to fund dirty travel in a small area of Wales, so why could it not spend half that on improving green travel countrywide?”

Cllr Young, whose ward is Denbigh, said that the green routes would bring added benefits. “The economic benefits of quality walking and cycling routes are significant, both for health and tourism, but also day-to-day, by reducing congestion, pollution and enabling people to improve their mental and physical health,” he said.

He said he believed it is a "reasonable request" that a sum of £1billion is ringfenced to fund green routes across Wales.

Glenn Swingler, Denbigh county councillor, said he “absolutely supports” the call to improve green route funding but that securing private land to build paths can be challenging negotiations in which the council needs more financial backing.

Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Ruthin county councillor and lead member for education, children and young people, also voiced his support for funding green routes but said that “before throwing silly figures around” the county council needs to make a business case which identifies the location and cost of the Ruthin-St Asaph route to the Welsh Government.

“A cycling path would be brilliant but we need to make sure the route is accessible and simple for all generations to use,” he said.

“If the Welsh Government is re-looking at its plan for the M4 then money is available and North Wales deserves its fair share.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Active travel is a priority of the Welsh Government and vital to getting more people travelling in ways that improve their health and our environment. Last year, we announced a £60m investment over three years for active travel which is the largest ever funding boost for such schemes in Wales and marks a real step change in our approach.

"This year, Denbighshire will benefit from £495,000 funding to progress schemes in their area. As a nation, it’s clear we need to think differently about how we travel. Currently, over half of all car journeys are for distances of under five miles, many of these could be made by walking and cycling, and changing that culture is a matter we must make together."