Minister refuses to make motorway commitment

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 Welsh Government has not tabled any amendments nor will be voting this afternoon.

– Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM

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).

We all agree that the M4 around Newport is a problem area for traffic that needs to be solved. Traffic jams cause delays for road users and have a negative impact on the economy. Plaid Cymru is pressing for a solution which is sustainable and represents value for money. The ‘blue route’ option is cost effective and can be delivered quickly. It’s the best option for Wales, for road users and for Welsh business.

– Plaid Cymru Economy Spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

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.

This motion is irresponsible and shows a serious lack of judgment. Before the inquiry is complete ... it says 'this is the option we must take'. Plaid Cymru members [of the environment committee] can have no credibility on this issue.

– Mick Antoniw, Labour AM for Pontypridd

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Calls for M4 relief road rethink

The Welsh Government is coming under pressure to replace plans for a new motorway south of Newport with a cheaper option that critics say would tackle congestion sooner.