– Gareth Clubb, Friends of the Earth Cymru
European and Welsh law require the Welsh Government to consider a variety of options with an open mind in its transport planning in order to make sure that unnecessary environmental damage is avoided.
We don’t think they’ve done that - and we’re willing to seek a judge’s opinion on the Welsh Government’s ability to comply with the law.
Friends of the Earth Cymru have confirmed today that a letter will be sent to the Welsh Government, asking them to withdraw and restart an environmental consultation about the proposed M4 relief road route.
The group say they are concerned about the environmental impact of the proposals, and claim alternative routes to the one through the Gwent Levels - which was announced as the preferred road earlier this month - were not given enough consideration.
The Welsh Government has two weeks to respond to the letter, and depending on the outcome of that, Friends of the Earth may decide to then begin judicial review proceedings.
Ministers have previously said they expected to face a legal challenge.
Labour's Mick Antoniw tells Political Editor Adrian Masters that the Welsh Government's decision on the M4 relief road project 'could have been handled better.'
He's a member of the Environment Committee which completed its report into the plan today. Other Labour members are also said to be disappointed that the announcement was made before the committee finished its scrutiny.
Plans to improve the M4 corridor around Newport are a step closer after the Welsh Government approved proposals for a new section of motorway south of the city.
Iestyn Davies from the Federation of Small Businesses Wales says the relief road will be a 'billion pound mistake' and that other suggestions for the road should be considered.
Plaid Cymru's Shadow Transport Spokesman, Rhun ap Iorwerth says he believes that todays decision is a costly mistake. He believes that there will be a 15 year wait for the project to be delivered when an alternative route could have been completed a decade sooner.
Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth and sustainable transport charity Sustrans have both condemned the decision to go ahead with a new motorway. They claim it will devastate nationally important wildlife sites in the Gwent Levels south of Newport. They also predict that the motorway won't open to traffic for more than a decade and that the billion pound cost will starve more worthwhile transport projects of funds.
– Gareth Clubb, Friends of the Earth Cymru
This vastly expensive, utterly unnecessary and terribly damaging motorway is the worst possible transport choice for south east Wales. And the billion pound price tag means that, at a time when traffic has actually decreased since 2007, it’s going to come at the cost of the sustainable solutions that could benefit us all. Investment in public transport and some modest road improvements could improve transport in the area at a fraction of the cost, and we could be seeing the benefits almost immediately.
– Jane Lorimer, Sustrans Cymru
£1 billion for a new section of motorway is the wrong transport priority for Wales. Investment in public transport must be the priority for building a sustainable and efficient economy, yet the Welsh Government’s consultation on the need for an M4 relief road scheme didn’t take into account other proposals that will reduce demand, such as the Metro programme, or evidence showing that car use is now in decline.
The Conservatives have broadly welcomed the go-ahead for the M4 relief motorway but claimed that today's announcement by Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart could trigger legal challenges.
– shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies AM
A long time coming, today’s announcement at least shows progress and willing – finally. Make no mistake – the spades must start digging and businesses and travellers given the relief so sorely needed. Under no circumstances must that come at the expense of scrutiny – and today’s last-minute announcement has failed to take environmental concerns into account, or provide relevant detail. Welsh Conservatives have long called for M4 relief – and, while this must happen swiftly, it must happen appropriately.
– Shadow Environment Minister Antoinette Sandback AM
This announcement today fails to take into account substantial concerns about the elimination of the Blue Route. There is a serious and substantial failure to comply with the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and the Minister’s announcement today is likely to be mired in legal challenges for years to come. The potential environmental damage caused by the Ministers failure to consider properly the Blue Route is short termism at its worst.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats say today's go ahead for a new motorway around Newport by 2021 is a "huge mistake" by Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart. They say it ignores environmental concerns raised during the consultation on alternative proposals.
– Liberal Democrat Economy spokesperson Eluned Parrott AM
The consultation process appears to have been nothing more than a sham. The Minister’s claim that there were no reasons why the ‘black route’ could not be adopted completely ignores evidence provided to her by the RSPB, Sustrans and the Federation of Small Businesses. There are still huge questions surrounding the economic benefit of this development. Investing the Welsh Government’s entire borrowing powers into one single road leaves no money left for other transport projects like the South Wales Metro, which can provide much greater economic benefit for the whole area. Our proposed alternatives are far less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and are academically recommended. It’s shocking that the Welsh Labour Minister is remaining blinkered, ignoring these credible proposals and ploughing ahead regardless.
Organisations representing the business community in Wales have reacted in contrasting fashion to the Welsh Government giving the go-ahead to a new relief road around Newport.
The chosen option is the £1bn 'black route', between Junctions 23 and 29.
Pressing ahead with the M4 black route is a billion pound mistake.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) described it as a "billion pound mistake" - while the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed it as "a sensible long-term decision."
CBI welcome the @welshgovernment decision to build the M4 Relief Road. A sensible long term decision for businesses and commuters alike
The new M4 to be built south of Newport will boost transport links and benefit business and commuters says Wales' Transport Minister Edwina Hart.