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Sunday, July 20, 2014

A road too far

There are many reasons why the Welsh Government's proposed M4 relief road should not go ahead, not least the environmental impact, but also because it is based on questionable traffic projections, ties up all the borrowing provision in one corner of Wales, flies in the face of the aims of their own Future Generations bill and undermines efforts to promote and develop public transport alternatives.

It is the latter reason that Gerry Holtham concentrates on in this article in the Western Mail. He asks whether the government’s plan to build a £1bn M4 relief road alongside developing a “transformative” South Wales metro concept at the same time can be achieved, suggesting that the government will have to choose one or the other, or concede that a private-public finance arrangement will be needed.

The paper records that the Economy and Transport Minister's decision to go ahead with the most expensive option has provoked huge controversy among environmental groups, the small business lobby and opposition parties, who accuse her of ploughing ahead with an unnecessarily costly and environmentally-detrimental option, when an alternative £400m to upgrade a distributor road and old steelworks road was not included in the latest consultation.

They add that as a result Plaid Cymru has walked out of negotiations with the Welsh Government on next year’s budget in protest at the decision. We on the other hand are staying in there for now in the hope of influencing the outcome on the M4.

We will see which is the most successful strategy in due course.
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