Wales

Concerns that M4 relief road could cost Newport docks £30m

M4 congestion
Image caption Grid lock - plans for a Newport relief road on the M4 hope to ease traffic problems for the city

The controversial M4 relief road could cost Newport docks £30 million in investment, the port's boss claims.

Matthew Kennerley, director of Associated British Ports (ABP) in south Wales is "concerned" about the route.

The Welsh government plans to address M4 traffic problems with a new 14 mile road from Magor to Castleton, including a bridge over the docks.

Mr Kennerley believes if the bridge is not high enough it will cost Wales' busiest commercial port "huge sums".

Currently the port handles 1.85 million tonnes of goods a year, said to be worth £186m annually to the Welsh economy.

Quayside redundant

But Mr Kennerley thinks a bridge could potentially prevent about 60% of ships from entering the north docks, making a kilometre of quayside redundant.

He also believes a bridge would stop larger cranes from moving around the docks, with companies then tempted to use Bristol docks instead.

First Minister Carwyn Jones addressed concerns in the assembly recently and said officials have met ABP officials a number of times.

He said the height of the bridge will be examined to allow the docks to carry on working as normal.

Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption Routes proposed for the M4 relief - including the chosen 'black' route across the Usk and Newport docks

"The M4 project will vastly improve motorway capacity and resilience across the south of Wales, benefitting not only the port of Newport but also the ABP operations in Swansea, Port Talbot, Barry and Cardiff," Mr Jones added.

The road could be built by 2022 and the latest projections indicate it will cost less than the £1bn initial estimates.

It will cross five sites of special scientific interest and Friends of the Earth Cymru failed in a legal challenge to force Welsh ministers to reconsider the route.

Image copyright Barrie Jenkins
Image caption The proposed new motorway would include a bridge over the River Usk south of Newport

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