Helping you understand Welsh law

What is devolved?

Prior to the Wales Act 2017, the National Assembly already had a high degree of legislative competence with regards to transport. This competence was further extended by the Wales Act 2017.

The National Assembly enjoys broad competence over the overarching area of transport. There are, however, some specific areas in relation to which the National Assembly cannot legislate. These are referred to as “Reserved Matters” in Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (“GOWA 2006”). These are detailed below;  

Road Transport

Under this heading in Schedule 7A to GOWA 2006 there is a comprehensive list of reserved matters pertaining to road transport for which the National Assembly of Wales does not have legislative competence. This includes (amongst other reservations) road traffic offences, driver licensing (including training, testing and certification) and vehicle insurance and vehicle registration.

Whilst the list of reserved matters under this heading appears to be fairly extensive, there are several notable exceptions provided for within GOWA 2006 which means that not only can the National Assembly legislate in relation to matters not specifically reserved under this heading but it has express competence to legislate in relation to the following;

  • The subject-matter of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (civil enforcement of traffic contraventions).
  • Regulation relating to trunk road charging schemes.
  • Regulation relating to the descriptions of motor vehicles and trailers that may be used under arrangements for persons to travel to and from the places where they receive education or training, unless the regulation is the setting of technical standards for construction or equipment of motor vehicles or trailers which differ from the standards that would or might otherwise apply to them.
  • Regulation of the carriage of animals in motor vehicles or trailers for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, animal welfare or the environment.
  • Licensing of taxis, taxi drivers, private hire vehicles, private hire vehicle drivers and private hire vehicle operators (but not enforcement by means of penalty points).

Rail Transport

Under this heading in Schedule 7A to GOWA 2006, the National Assembly cannot legislate in relation to railway services or the subject-matter of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987.
Subject to those reservations, the National Assembly may legislate in relation to rail transport and, in particular, may do so to provide financial assistance so far as relating to railway services. However, such financial assistance cannot be made in connection with;

  • the carriage of goods;
  • a railway administration order; or
  • Regulation (EC) No. 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on public passenger transport services by rail and by road.

Marine and Waterway Transport

The National Assembly has legislative competence in relation to harbours in Wales.

Under this heading in Schedule 7A to GOWA 2006 the National Assembly cannot legislate in relation to a number of reserved matters including navigational rights and freedoms, hovercraft and coastguard services and reserved trust ports and harbours not wholly in Wales.

Whilst there are a number of reservations relating to marine and waterway transport, there are also a number of specific exceptions in relation to which the National Assembly may legislate. For example, the National Assembly may legislate in relation to:-  

  • The regulation of works that may obstruct or endanger navigation apart from works in relation to, or for constructing, reserved trust ports or harbours not wholly in Wales. 
  • The participation by Welsh fire and rescue authorities in maritime search and rescue responses. 
  • Financial assistance for shipping services to, from or within Wales. 
  • The regulation of the carriage of animals on vessels for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, animal welfare or the environment.

Air Transport

Under this heading in Schedule 7A to GOWA 2006 the National Assembly cannot legislate in relation to aviation, air transport, airports and aerodromes. However, there are some exceptions and the National Assembly does have legislative competence in relation to;

  • Financial assistance to providers or proposed providers of air transport services or airport facilities or services.
  • Strategies by the Welsh Ministers or local or other public authorities about provision of air services.
  • Regulation of the carriage of animals on aircraft for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, animal welfare or the environment.

Transport Security

Under this heading in Schedule 7A to GOWA 2006, transport security is specifically reserved to the UK government. However, the National Assembly has competence to legislate in relation to the regulation of transport security relating to the carriage of adults who supervise persons travelling to and from the places where they receive education or training

Other Matters

Several matters relating to transport are reserved to the UK government under this heading. They are as follows;

  • Technical specifications for public passenger transport for disabled persons, including the subject-matter of—

(a)section 125(7) and (8) of the Transport Act 1985 (Secretary of State's guidance and consultation with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee), and
(b)Part 12 of the Equality Act 2010 (disabled persons: transport).

  • Technical specifications for fuel or other energy sources or processes for use in road, rail, marine, waterway or air transport.
  • Carriage of dangerous goods (including transport of radioactive material).

Executive Functions

Executive functions are the powers used by the Welsh Ministers on a day to day basis to ensure the smooth running of the country. These powers stem from various different sources. The key executive functions relevant to transport and their basis in law are examined in detail within the transport pages on this webpage.  

There are currently no articles about this topic