Wales politics

M4 relief road: Newport West MP urges 'vital' go-ahead

M4 relief road Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption An artist's impression of one section of the proposed new route

Newport cannot wait any longer for the M4 relief road, one of the city's two Welsh Labour MPs has said.

The party's leader Mark Drakeford is expected to announce the fate of the controversial £1.4bn project in a statement to the Welsh Assembly on Tuesday.

Newport West MP Ruth Jones said congestion on the M4 is "hamstringing" industry, schools, homes and tourism.

The Welsh Government stated it will say nothing in advance of the statement.

"We've waited at least 10 years for this, we can't wait any longer," Ms Jones said.

Plans for a new motorway south of Newport to tackle congestion around the Brynglas tunnels have existed for three decades.

The Welsh Government revived the scheme under the leadership of Carwyn Jones when he was first minister.

A year-long public inquiry was held on the preferred option - the so-called black route, a 14 mile six-lane motorway between Magor and Castleton.

First Minister Mr Drakeford is now set to make a decision on whether to go ahead after considering the inquiry report - the findings of which have not yet been made public.

While the CBI and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns have backed the project, environmentalists have long held objections to building the motorway on the Gwent Levels, which includes four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

At least one campaign group - the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway - has threatened legal action if it goes ahead.

Image copyright BBC/Google
Image caption This map shows the route of the proposed M4 relief road - the 'black route' is in green south of the existing motorway

Opinion in the Senedd is also split - with AMs in the governing Labour party, including members of the government, who are opposed.

Plaid Cymru and others have proposed an alternative scheme, known as the blue route, which would use some existing roads.

Supporters within Labour include Ms Jones, who won the Newport West by-election in April, although she told BBC Wales she did not have a preferred route.

"We need something. It's not up to me to say black, blue or whatever," she said.

Image caption Ruth Jones said it will be one of the most crucial decisions for the economy of South Wales

But she added: "It's one of the most crucial decisions that are going to be made in the economy of south east Wales in the next decade probably.

"It's vital to south east Wales that we have some kind of alleviation of the current situation, congestion, the traffic, and the problems which are affecting Newport, but also the surrounding areas.

"It's not my decision, I understand that. It's the first minister's decision, but we need a decision".

She added: "We need a decision because it's hamstringing industry, schools, homes, tourism as well. All these things are affected by the current congestion and blockages."

More on this story