WORK on a new cycle path linking Llandeilo and Carmarthen will shift up a gear once land has been acquired for the 16-mile scheme, but new sources of funding will be needed.

Concerns were raised at a Carmarthenshire Council committee meeting that the Tywi Valley Path had missed out on Welsh Government Active Travel funding this financial year.

Executive board member for environment, Councillor Hazel Evans, said she had been unable to persuade deputy minister for transport, Lee Waters, that the leisure path was eligible for Active Travel money.

“We could not get him to agree,” she said. “But you need somewhere to cycle to become confident.”

A council officer said the Tywi Valley Path – a short section of which has been completed – was always going to be a “five year-plus” scheme, while head of highways and transport Steve Pilliner said the acquisition of land over the next 12 months would speed up delivery.

“That will see an acceleration of works,” he said. “We are still looking at a five-year (Towy) project.”

The council has some money set aside for the £5 million to £8 million path, which will run along a redundant railway line between the two towns, and will bid for other sources.

Although Carmarthenshire did receive £316,000 of Active Travel money this financial year, the environmental and public protection scrutiny committee will write to Mr Waters to query why the Tywi Valley Path missed out, and why Cardiff Council received nearly £3.9 million.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Waters said Active Travel focused on every day journeys, like commuting and going to school, rather than leisure.

“Since I have taken office we have taken that far more seriously,” said the Llanelli AM.

“We’ve got an air quality crisis, obesity epidemic and climate emergency.”

It was vital, he said, to encourage behavioural change to cut the 60 per cent of all car journeys which are under five miles.

The Welsh Government has allocated £30 million to councils this year for transport projects, including Active Travel ones.

Mr Waters said the Tywi Valley Path was “a great project” but added: “They (the council) need to start looking at other ways of funding it.”

Carmarthenshire’s Plaid Cymru-Independent administration wants the county to be the cycling hub of Wales and has attracted two high-profile races as well as revamping the Carmarthen Velodrome and building the Pembrey closed road circuit.

It has also consulted school pupils on its cycle network plans.

The report before the committee said 4,780 pupils responded to a questionnaire, with 12 per cent saying they would like to cycle to school and nine per cent saying they would like to walk, who currently do not.

“Over 40 per cent of pupils said lockers to store cycle equipment and coats would increase the likelihood of them walking or cycling to school,” it said, adding that funding had now been allocated to three schools for this purpose.