- 3 updates
The Welsh Government has refused to discuss its proposals for an M4 relief road around Newport, after Plaid Cymru called an Assembly debate on the issue. The Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, said she and her colleagues would not even vote at the end of the debate to avoid any suggestion of bias.
The government risks a legal challenge if there's any suggestion that it took the decision before hearing all the arguments. The choice is between a £1 billion new motorway, which the government originally proposed, or the cheaper 'blue route', an upgrade of the Newport southern distributor road).
Labour AMs argued that it was wrong to decide Assembly policy on the M4 relief road when its environment committee is still looking at the options. One Labour member of the committee, Mick Antoniw, said he would abstain in today's vote in order to preserve his impartiality.
Carwyn Jones has told AMs that calls to replace the proposed M4 relief motorway with a cheaper option are prejudging the inquiry by the Assembly's Environment Committee. The First Minister said they should also wait for the response from the Economy Minister, Edwina Hart.
Both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are critical of the £1 billion scheme, as are the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors. They all argue that an upgrade to Newport's southern distributor road could provide a much quicker and more cost-effective solution.
The Chair of the Environment Committee, Alun Ffred Jones, has written to Edwina Hart, asking for an assurance that the alternative road is considered. Plaid Cymru will open an Assembly debate on the issue tomorrow. Plaid can expect the backing of the Liberal Democrats but not the Conservatives.
Plaid Cymru are calling on the Welsh Government to reopen its consultation on an M4 relief road around Newport, to allow consideration of the so-called blue route - an upgrade of the city's existing southern distributor road.
Plaid argue that it would be cheaper and quicker to build.