Rejection of M4 relief road: Industry reaction

Rejection of M4 relief road: Industry reaction

Scrapping plans to build a £1.4bn relief road in south Wales will cost the Welsh economy hundreds of millions in lost investment, logistics and business groups have warned.

Plans for the ‘black route’ which included a 14-mile, six-lane stretch of motorway around the city of Newport (pictured), have been rejected by the Labour-led Welsh government on the grounds of cost and its environmental impact.

Sally Gilson, Head of Welsh Policy at FTA, commented: “As the organisation representing the UK’s logistics sector, FTA is urging the First Minister to reconsider his decision; the construction of a black route is the only option for the Welsh economy and its citizens. 

“The M4 is a vital stretch of infrastructure with international economic importance, yet it is blighted by heavy congestion. FTA’s members have consistently evidenced the urgent need to tackle these congestion issues; it is frustrating that the opportunity to deliver this essential investment into South Wales’ infrastructure has been missed.”

Ms Gilson continued: “The First Minister’s decision will cost the Welsh economy hundreds of millions of pounds in lost private sector investment; as per the Welsh Government’s own assessment, it would have delivered £2 for every £1 invested. By improving the air quality around the Brynglas tunnels and tackling the road congestion through Newport, it would have also benefited local citizens.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the decision to ditch the project will dash the hopes of firms expecting improvements to a creaking road network after years of promises.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said that a thriving Welsh economy needs a fit-for-purpose M4 to attract new investment and spark growth.

“Firms frustrated with crippling congestion on the M4 will feel they’ve been let down by the Welsh Government.

“South Wales needs high-capacity, high-quality road infrastructure to keep people and goods moving efficiently. But scrapping the relief road without a clear alternative to reduce congestion will only make Wales less attractive to investors.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

 “Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.” 

 “As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.

 “While we struggle to see what alternative could be better than the M4 black route, the ball is back in the Welsh Government’s court to deliver their Plan B. An urgent and credible solution to the problem of congestion around the Brynglas tunnels must now be developed.” 

Sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said the decision "signifies the end of ‘business as usual’ for new road building".

CBT's Chief Executive Darren Shirley added: "This damaging road scheme being dropped is down to the hard work of the local community in getting the Welsh Government to listen to their concerns on the environmental impacts. 

"At a time when we urgently need to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions we can't afford for this decision to be a brave one-off. We need transformative investment in public transport to help reduce car use, not new roads to encourage it. Westminster needs to take a similar long-term view with the second round of the Roads Investment Strategy."