M4 relief road: Businesses say decision is 'urgently needed'

Image caption,
Arguments for and against a relief road have been ongoing for about 30 years

More businesses have joined calls for a decision to be made on the M4 relief road urgently, saying the lack of progress is affecting their work.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will decide whether to press ahead with the 14-mile (23km) project south of Newport, with £44m already spent on "development costs".

Critics claim the road would increase traffic and damage the environment.

The report of the 13-month public inquiry was delivered last November.

The Welsh Government said a decision will be made when officials prepare advice after analysing that report.

But last month, dozens of businesses and council leaders called on the Welsh Government to press ahead with the relief road.

A statement, signed by tycoon Sir Terry Matthews and senior Aston Martin, Tata and Admiral bosses, said congestion needed to be "tackled urgently".

Now, companies based in and around Newport have backed their call.

Victoria Morris, director of Foxwood Recruitment, said her company has jobs available in south east Wales but was missing out on candidates to its sister company in Bristol.

"We've got a shortage of candidates willing to travel across to this area," she told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme.

Media caption,
This video reveals the possible route of the M4 relief road

"As it stands the M4 is not fit for purpose. Every day it's absolutely gridlocked... it's a very undesirable commute, we need to do something about it or we're not going to flourish."

She said she welcomed the Severn Bridge becoming free to cross but this was "one piece of the jigsaw".

"We need to urgently do something," she said.

And Bradley Cummings, chief executive of craft beer company Tiny Rebel which employs 127, told the programme the road should have been built years ago, claiming a lack of progress is "frustrating".

His colleague Hannah Williams added: "We're right on the M4 so we can get to London quite quickly, but the traffic is a bit of a nightmare which delays the logistics of getting our beer out to customers.

Image caption,
Protesters gathered outside the Senedd in December last year in opposition to the road

"In the morning now as you drive here you can see the traffic the other way and I feel sorry for the guys sat in their car commuting for hours in a day, it's unproductive time."

But sustainable transport charity Sustrans said the relief road would be a "sticking plaster that will fall off in a decade".

If the road is built, Sustrans predicts 42,000 extra car journeys per day by 2037 and called on the Welsh Government to invest in more sustainable modes of transport.

Ian Rappell from the Gwent Wildlife Trust added the plan should be scrapped and instead investment should go into a "modern, fully integrated public transport system, fit for the people of Wales".

He said: "We should be looking at sustainable development and this approach is contrary to that... it's tearing up all the consensus about sustainability."

The Welsh Government declined the offer to participate in Good Morning Wales' discussion of the relief road but in its most recent statement said "necessary due diligence is ongoing".