Welsh Government National 20mph Guide – A Global First

In 2019 the Welsh Government said that 20mph should be the default speed limit for residential areas. The Task Force Group it set up to “identify the practical actions needed to implement this change” has now reported. The Senedd will debate “Introducing 20mph Speed Limits in Wales” in its session on 15th July 2020.

In May 2019, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that it was Welsh Government policy to set a national default 20mph limit for urban and village streets[1]. This attracted cross party support. Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport directed a Task Force to form and report recommendations on the practicalities of this national change.

The “Welsh 20mph Task Force Group: Final Report[2]” took evidence and advice from a wide range of stakeholders and specialists from government, local authorities, NGOs, communities and police all working within the Task Force Group at joint meetings over the last 12 months. The report was presented by Phil Jones who chaired the Task Force Group. It details the rationale, process and outcomes methodology of setting a default 20mph limit for restricted roads (those with street lights at least every 200 yards).

The report shows how a national approach, based on national values, to setting speed limits within communities can combine economy, scale and flexibility. It shows how this will be far more effective in providing community benefits than local authorities setting limits street by street. It also provides details on how appropriate exceptions can be decided locally and a national engagement and marketing plan to maximise behaviour change. It includes the impact of mandatory speed limiters required on new motor vehicles from 2022. Whilst in some other countries most urban authorities may have set residential roads with a 20mph or 30km/h limit, Wales is building on this with a “global first” by setting a national 20mph limit with exceptions decided locally. Other Governments are now likely to use the Welsh experience as a template for their own change, including this document.

The timetable proposed in the report is:

• July 2020  

Senedd debates[3] and accepts the report and supports the Welsh Government planning for a general speed limit for restricted roads of 20mph.

• October 2021 

Pass Statutory Instrument

• April 2023 

Change law with national 20mph limit coming into effect.


Rod King MBE, Founder and Campaign Director for 20’s Plenty commented:

The aspiration in Wales for a national default 20mph limit reflects some of the key values within Welsh communities and Government around future generations, active travel, environment, transport, public health and equality. It also aligns with global best practice that 130 nations have endorsed at the recent 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety[4]. We are impressed at how stakeholders and government, both local and national, have worked together in developing such a detailed, practical and insightful report that shows how this important initiative can be delivered. 

Members of Senedd now have the opportunity to demonstrate how strong values, cross-party support and focused and inclusive planning can deliver a better public spaces for all Welsh communities.”


[1] http://www.20splenty.org/welsh_government_to_set_20mph_default

[2] https://tinyurl.com/welsh-20mph-report

[3] https://tinyurl.com/senedd-plenary-20mph

[4] http://www.20splenty.org/global_ministers_mandate_20mph

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In the subsequent Senedd debate on 15th July there were 45 votes for the new limit and 6 votes against, with 2 abstensions. The full debate is shown below.

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