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Labour backbench anger at M4 announcment

Three Labour backbench AMs have attacked the announcement of an M4 relief motorway,. They were unhappy with either the decision itself or the timing of Edwina Hart's statement.

Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw and Cardiff North's Julie Morgan are both members of the Assembly Environment Committee. They were unhappy that the minister had not waited for their committee's report on the proposal and had not even agreed to appear before them.

The minister replied that she could not not appear before the committee until she had taken her decision for fear of a legal challenge on the grounds that she had not acted impartially. Mr Antoniw, who's a lawyer warned that the minister had in fact left herself open to a legal challenge by her actions.

Cardiff Central Labour AM Jenny Rathbone argued that new roads inevitably generate more traffic and said her constituents would be disappointed by the decision.

Plaid 'outrage' at M4 announcement

Plaid Cymru have condemned as outrage the decision by the Economy and Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, to reject alternatives to a new motorway south of Newport and announce a timetable for building the M4 relief road.

Plaid Cymru believes that today’s decision is a costly mistake. It is costly for the economy in that there will be a 15 year wait for this project to be delivered when an alternative route could have been completed a decade sooner. But it is also hugely costly for the Welsh public purse – why go for a £1 billion pound route that will mean infrastructure projects losing out right across Wales, when the £400 million blue route would have solved the problem and left hundreds of millions of pounds extra for investment elsewhere.

– Plaid Cymru Transport Spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

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Minister promises new M4 by autumn 2021

Economy Minister Edwina Hart has told AMs that there was no realistic alternative to building a complete new motorway south of Newport. In particular she rejected the idea that upgrading the existing Southern Distributor Road would do the job.

The Minister set out a timetable for the construction of the new road.

  • Public Inquiry in winter 2016
  • Start work in spring 2018
  • Open new motorway autumn 2021

The Souther Distributor Road would not provide a long term solution, even in combination with public transport measures. I'd have to look at closing existing junctions on the SDR and the work would be more disruptive than a new motorway.

– Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart AM

Alternatives to new M4 rejected

by Nick Powell

The Welsh Government is to press ahead with plans for a new motorway south of Newport to relieve congestion on the existing M4. The project was already the government's preferred option but it has been consulting on whether less ambitious alternatives would provide a quicker and cheaper solution that would still end the daily traffic jams at the Brynglas tunnels.

Alternatives such as upgrading the existing Newport Southern Distributor Road would also have had less impact on the wildlife of the Gwent Levels. As well as environmental groups, organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Welsh Affairs favoured a cheaper option, partly because of fears that the £1 billion cost would drain money from other projects.

The UK government has been pressing for early action from Welsh ministers. Although the Welsh Government will not have borrowing powers until legislation currently going through Westminster is passed, the Treasury says it would allow an early loan for a new motorway. It's not yet clear how a the money would be repaid but one option is to retain tolls on the Severn Bridges once the Second Severn Crossing is paid for.

Under threat Newport bakery saved by new buyers

Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone was under threat of closure Credit: ITV News

Avana Bakeries in Newport, has been given a lifeline after its owners found a new buyer.

The processing site in Rogerstone was due to close this summer - with the loss of 650 jobs - after losing its principal contract with Marks and Spencer.

Its owners, 2 Sisters Food Group, confirmed that the site has been sold.

A spokesperson said: "It is proposed to operate the business under a new company, Food Utopia Ltd, which will aim to secure continuing operations. We will now commence the TUPE transfer process of colleagues."

Welsh meat prices slashed by a quarter, farmers say

Welsh farmers claim that some supermarkets have gone back on their promise to stock more British lamb and beef, just a year after they agreed to try and sell more of their produce in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

In 2013 international sales of Welsh beef and lamb hit £224million. But farmers say the money they get for their meat has since been slashed by a quarter. Hannah Thomas reports.

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International sales of Welsh meat hit £224m

Exports to Scandanavia started three years ago. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/PA Images

International sales of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef were worth more than £224 million to the economy of Wales last year.

That's according to Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales.

It says exports of certified Welsh lamb products were worth £154.7 million in 2013 - up by £7 million on the previous year.

Meanwhile overseas sales of certified Welsh beef stood at £69.4 million, the same as in 2012.

Further Tata Steel statement after Port Talbot emission

Tata Steel has issued a further statement following this morning's loud bang and visible smoke coming from the Port Talbot steelworks.

"We do everything possible to avoid any impact from our operations on our surroundings and we care very much when activities here unsettle our neighbours" said Dr Martin Brunnock, Technical Director at Tata Steel.

Black smoke was seen coming from the site Credit: Viewer's picture

"We have been contacted by local residents in relation to this incident and we will respond to this feedback once we complete our investigation."

"The release was the result of a procedure which we carry-out on very limited occasions when required to stabilise the blast furnace operation"

"We carry-out this procedure only when it is necessary and with a clear eye on our responsibilities to the community and the environment."

In pictures: Black smoke seen from Port Talbot steelworks

Below are pictures which appear to show black smoke emitting from the Tata Steel site after a 'loud bang' was heard there earlier today.

The company says the bang was caused by a valve in one of the blast furnaces.

Black smoke is seen from nearby houses in Port Talbot Credit: Ross Hookings
The emission has been reported to Natural Resources Wales Credit: Viewer's picture
Tata Steel insists the site remains safe Credit: Viewer's picture
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