M4 relief road, Mark Drakeford,
© Peter Wasp

The Welsh Government has abandoned plans to build the £1.4bn M4 relief road, First Minister Mark Drakeford has revealed

Mark Drakeford axed the M4 relief road plans because of rising costs and the environmental impact.

The proposals would have seen a 14-mile motorway built as an opening into south Wales in an attempt to combat the congestion faced by motorists around Newport.

Mark Drakeford said: “Cabinet concluded that the significant level of expenditure needed to deliver the M4 project would have an unacceptable impact on our other priorities in areas such as public transport, health, education, and housing. It did so, as I said, by placing those capital investment decisions in the wider financial context faced by the Welsh Government.

“This is a decision being made at the point of maximum uncertainty about our financial future.”

He added: “In light of this conclusion, it is actually unnecessary for me to go on to consider whether the advantages of the project outweigh its disadvantages and whether I agree with the inspector’s overall conclusions as to where the balance between advantages and disadvantages lies.”

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he was “hugely disappointed by the decision” and that residents, commuters and businesses across south and west Wales would be “rightfully disappointed by the decision”.

While Friends of the Earth welcomed the decision, stating it was “great news for Wales and the planet”.

CECA Wales director, Ed Evans, commented: There has been much speculation within the industry for some time that the Welsh Government has been preparing the ground to cancel their plans for an M4 relief road around Newport. It is now clear that Wales will lose out again.

“This has been a dreadfully slow process riddled with political indecision. And yet the problems for businesses and communities in this part of Wales remain as do, sadly, the environmental impacts caused by congestion and tailbacks at the tunnels.

“This is a huge blow and comes on the back of so many other major projects being delayed or cancelled: Wylfa Newydd, rail electrification, tidal lagoons, to name but a few. Wales is fast becoming a country of false promises but this needs to change.

“If the relief road is not to proceed then we need to see this investment being directed to other infrastructure projects to benefit our future generations. And we need this to happen quickly. Our infrastructure is falling apart and along with it is any hope of achieving a more prosperous and resilient Wales.”

A commission will now look at alternative solutions to the problem of congestion on the M4 in Newport.

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