Environmental group begins action over M4 relief road

Friends of the Earth Cymru has 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 Welsh Government says it will respond once it has seen the letter.

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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

New M4 relief road for south of Newport

The Welsh Government has announced a new M4 relief road south of Newport is to be built.

The M4 relief Road will be between Junctions 23 and 29. Credit: ITV News

The section will also have walking and cycling facilities and the government says it will compliment plans for a metro system for the Cardiff region.

The Plan is seeking to improve accessibility for people, Welsh goods and services to international markets by addressing capacity and resilience issues on the main gateway into South Wales. This will deliver clear benefits for businesses and commuters and complements our proposals for a Metro system for the Cardiff Capital Region. I have agreed for my officials to begin the procurement of a contractor to progress the design of the scheme.

– Edwina Hart, Transport Minister
  1. Nick Powell

Alternatives to new M4 rejected

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.

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