Wales

M4 relief road: Next FM may decide on £1.4bn plan

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Media captionThis video reveals the possible route of the M4 relief road

The final decision on building a £1.4bn M4 relief road in south Wales may be made by the next first minister, Carwyn Jones has admitted.

Wales' current leader said the Welsh Government had received the 580-page report from the planning inspector after a 13-month public inquiry.

Mr Jones had previously said he would make the decision but he is due to step down in December.

"The decision cannot be rushed," Mr Jones told BBC Radio Wales.

The Welsh Government wants to build a 14-mile (23km) six-lane motorway south of Newport, between Magor and Castleton.

It says the current M4 is "not fit for purpose" and wants to relieve congestion on the current motorway around the Brynglas Tunnels - a bottleneck once described by former Prime Minister David Cameron as a "foot on the windpipe of the Welsh economy".

Conservationists say the new M4 across "Wales' own Amazon rainforest" of the Gwent Levels would be a "direct attack on nature".

Building an M4 relief road - a scheme first proposed in 1991 - was an election pledge by Mr Jones and would be Wales' biggest infrastructure project since devolution in 1999.

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Image caption This map shows the route of the proposed M4 Relief Road - the Welsh Government-backed "black route" is in green

AMs are set to vote on the project in December but Mr Jones admitted: "It's not absolutely guaranteed I will able to take the decision, although that is still the intention.

"It's the sort of decision people will be unhappy with whatever the decision and might look to challenge it in court so the proper process has to be followed."

Finance minister Mark Drakeford is favourite to succeed Mr Jones as Labour leader and first minister and is considered to be more sceptical of building the relief road.

Mr Drakeford's leadership rivals, health minister Vaughan Gething and Welsh language minister Eluned Morgan, are said to be more open to the new route.

Critics have suggested that Mr Jones, who was been first minister for nine years, should allow his successor make the decision.

"It is one of the most difficult and probably controversial decisions that anyone can take and just throwing it at my successor doesn't seem fair," he said.

"It is a manifesto commitment to build an M4 relief road - the question for me, is this the right route?"

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