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George Osborne has told ITV News that there will be no tolls on any new M4 relief road around Newport.
But on a visit to Cardiff, the Chancellor said he hope to give the go ahead to a scheme that would improve the road within a couple of months.
The Welsh Government has welcomed George Osborne's promise that an announcement on a scheme to improve the M4 at Newport will come in the next two months. But a spokesperson said there are 'important issues that remain to be resolved.'
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has ruled out using tolls to pay for a new stretch of the M4 motorway around Newport. He dismissed claims that the Treasury was considering such a move as 'misreports.'
He told our Political Editor Adrian Masters that he's 'never seen or considered a proposal to toll the M4.' But he said he hoped to give the go-ahead 'in a couple of months' to a scheme to improve it which has been the subject of talks with the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government has strongly denied reports that tolls could be levied on motorway traffic around Newport. One source has told ITV Cymru Wales that it is an unworkable idea.
Talks are well advanced about using toll income from the Severn Bridges to pay for M4 improvements, including a possible relief road for Newport.
The manager of a road hauliers in Llanelli has given a 'cautionary' welcome to news of a possible relief road around the M4 in Newport. It could be funded from the tolls on the Severn Bridges after the cost of building the Second Severn Crossing has been paid off.
Ian Jarman, Manager for Owens Road services, says that it would be a 'good investment in Wales' but that the charge 'needs to be small.'
He said that they already spend around £250,000 a year on the Severn Bridge tolls. He warned the UK and Welsh Governments not to 'tie them up in knots' with inflationary rises like they have seen with the Severn Bridge tolls.
Sources close to First Minister Carwyn Jones have flatly denied that the Welsh Government would agree to a toll on traffic using the M4 at Newport, either for using an improved existing motorway or a completely new relief road.
It appears that the Welsh Government remains determined -and hopeful- about gaining the income from the Severn Bridge tolls once the construction costs of the Second Severn Crossing have been paid off in 2017 or 2018. That revenue could then be used to repay a loan that financed an M4 improvement.
For most motorists it would make little difference if the toll they paid at Magor was still for having just crossed the bridge rather than for using a new or improved motorway ahead of them. But tolls levied at the bridges are much less likely to encourage motorists to find an alternative route.
The Welsh Government have refused to comment on reports that the UK Government will soon announce plans to back a new M4 relief road around Newport.
In a statement they said that they "do not comment on speculation."
The former Transport Minister has criticised plans to invest £830million to ease congestion on the M4 around Newport.
Ieuan Wyn Jones says that plans were abandoned in 2009 because he was advised that "not only was the new relief road to be subjected to tolls, so was the existing M4 to be tolled. "
The Plaid Cymru Assembly Member said it was based on evidence that had been gained during the operation of the M6 toll road.
He said he came to the conclusion that "it was simply unacceptable for motorists to have to pay tolls on the Severn bridges and on the existing M4 and new relief road."
"There was already significant complaints about the tolls on the Severn bridges and this additional burden on motorists and businesses could not possibly be justified. "
"That is why I accepted my officials’ advice not to proceed with the relief road but to ease congestion around Newport by linking into the southern distribution road as an alternative route.”
Latest ITV News reports
The UK Government say that they hope to announce plans for a new road around Newport with a couple of months