WELSH ministers have rejected calls for the speed limit to be increased on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road.

Petitioners argued the 50mph limit would undo any improvements to journey times on the road, which has been the site of extensive roadworks for several years.

"The works on the road have over run in terms of time and costs with regular users subject to years of delays and 40mph," the petition reads. "The promise of improving speed of transit will be destroyed with a 50mph speed limit."

They also claimed roadworks costs of "£336m will have been completely wasted" if the speed limit of the new road remains at 50mph.

The roadworks period has caused frustration for people living in Gwent, including traders in Brynmawr who say they lost out on footfall, and residents in Gilwern where drivers were using narrow country lanes as "rat runs".

READ MORE: Figures reveal staggering sums paid out in compensation for A465 works

More than half of the 271 people who signed the petition, calling for the speed limit decision to be reversed, were from the Gwent area.

But at a Senedd committee meeting today (Monday), members were told the speed limit on the improved A465 was always intended to be 50mph.

During a 2014 inquiry into the project, the planning inspectorate said a 50mph limit would serve as the "main mitigation" to "departures from normal engineering standards" on the A465 improvements.

In evidence to the committee, deputy climate change minister Lee Waters said there were "physical constraints" to increasing the speed on the road, and the 50mph plan had been accepted by the police and councils.

When the 50mph plans were brought into law last June, the Welsh Government received 31 objections but Mr Waters told the committee he "did not see anything in the letters of objection, or in any of the papers before, that would enable the speed limit within the designed and constructed constraints to be safely increased from the 50mph speed limit".

Senedd committee member Luke Fletcher noted the A465 project had been "quite heavily scrutinised over the past couple of years", including a public inquiry.

"The road was designed and built to operate as a 50mph maximum speed road," he said, adding that the speed limit decision was "done" and "I can't see there anything we can do now as a petitions committee going forward".