Maesteg

Wales, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

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'Congestion isn't confined to the M4'

Vaughan Roderick

BBC Welsh Affairs Editor

It had become clear over the past few days that the plans for an M4 relief road were heading for the scrapyard.

U-turns aren’t normally allowed on motorways. This case is the exception, it appears.

Mark Drakeford insisted that today’s decision was the result of a changed financial and political context. Part of that change of context though is a change of first minister.

We don’t know whether Carwyn Jones would have given the plan the go-ahead had he taken the decision himself, as he’d intended.

Many suspect that the former first minister regarded the relief road as part of his legacy. If so, today will have been a disappointment for him.

All of which, of course, leaves the people of Newport dealing with the worst congestion problems in Wales with all the inconvenience and pollution that go with that.

That congestion isn’t confined to the M4 though. Newportonians will be hoping that any future measures take in not just the motorway but the A467, the A4042 and the frequently gridlocked city centre.

The challenge of Plan B

Sarah Dickins

BBC Wales Economics Correspondent

So the numbers didn’t add up for the Welsh Government. Despite the fact its own economic appraisal report argued in 2016 that for every £1 spent £2 would be generated by the M4 Relief Road, it has now decided that it is not cost effective.

The argument that if you build more roads you attract more traffic has been around for years, but increasingly the Welsh Government has looked at wider impacts.

The Well-being of Future Generations Act forces the Welsh Government and others to consider the impact of decisions on our health, prosperity and equality. It has also shaken up the way the government views the economy, beyond a simple drive towards more jobs. Now our living standards and quality of life have to be taken into account too.

The Welsh Government will have been well aware that 28% of households in Newport have no car, and would not directly benefit from the investment.

The challenge now is for a Plan B, a viable alternative, to ease congestion and reduce the frustrations of people living in the area.

M4 relief road: Gwent Levels wildlife key to refusal
The first minister says the project's "adverse impacts on the environment outweigh its advantages".
M4 relief road: Why has the Newport motorway been axed?
The six-lane scheme would have seen a motorway built south of Newport to tackle congestion.

'Huge win for environmentalists'

Steffan Messenger

BBC Wales Environment Correspondent

Today's announcement by First Minister Mark Drakeford is a huge win for environmentalists and others who have long campaigned to protect the Gwent Levels.

It’s striking that Mark Drakeford says he attaches "very significant weight" to the environmental concerns, adding that he would have rejected the plans even if the costs of building the new motorway were lower.

It may not be the most famous of Wales’ beauty spots, but the wetlands south of Newport have been compared by campaigners to the Amazon rainforest in terms of biodiversity.

Rare birds, plants and insects have found a home here especially in the unique drainage ditches known as reens, dug during Roman times.

The first minister says the “substantial adverse impact” the plans would have had on nature could not be justified, contrary - we now know - to the conclusions of the public inquiry.

It may be a coincidence, but his decision also comes during Wales Nature Week and a day before the Welsh Government is set to mark World Environment Day at the Senedd.

'Expensive U turn'

Felicity Evans

BBC Wales political editor

The letter explaining the reasons for Mark Drakeford’s decision rejects the £1.4bn proposals on grounds of cost.

Mr Drakeford notes that the allocation of Welsh Government funds is beyond the scope of the public inquiry - which begs the question: why did the Welsh Government commission a public inquiry that cost tens of millions of pounds, when the Cabinet made the decision based on factors the inquiry could never consider?

The answer to that is the change of leadership at the top of the Welsh Labour.

Mark Drakeford was always cooler on the M4 relief road proposals than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones.

Nevertheless today’s decision marks an expensive U turn on his party’s 2016 manifesto commitment.

For emphasis, Mr Drakeford goes on to say that even if cost had not been an issue, he wouldn’t have gone ahead because of the environmental impact.

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