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M4 relief road cancelled after cost estimates rise to over £2 billion

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THE WELSH Government has ditched plans to build an M4 relief road.

After years of planning, a lengthy public inquiry, and extensive controversy both about the delays in making a decision and the potential environmental impact of the new road, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced his widely anticipated decision to cancel the project in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 4.

The M4 relief road was a marquee project for the Welsh Government; however, internal Labour politics slowed down progress towards a decision with the result that former First Minister Carwyn Jones passed the buck for the final decision to his successor. Mr Jones favoured the scheme, while Mr Drakeford was more equivocal about its prospects.

Originally proposed in 1991, the scheme was dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 on grounds of cost (then an estimated £1bn) before being revived in 2011. The project secured UK Treasury support in 2013 and was approved by the then-Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart in 2014, with a completion date of 2022.

Since 2014, the road lingered in development hell through a raft of consultations and a public inquiry.

M4 decision: Drakeford slated for dither and delay

The First Minister’s decision to cancel the scheme raises questions about the huge amount of public money and government manpower expended on it. His principal objection is the same as that which led to the original scheme’s cancellation in 2009: money, or the Welsh Government lack of it/unwillingness to spend it.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Haf Elgar said: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2 billion pounds, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.

“This decision is a testament to the untiring efforts of local residents who have opposed this plan over decades and is a clear signal that the Welsh Government is taking its climate emergency declaration and commitment to future generations seriously.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

“Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.

“As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.”

On  his Facebook page, Stephen Crabb MP said: “They’ve bottled it. The Welsh First Minister’s decision not to give the M4 relief road the green light is short sighted and will be deeply frustrating for number of commuters, businesses and tourists.

“I’ve spoken to numerous Pembrokeshire businesses, from hauliers to tourism operators, who are all fully aware the damage the congestion around Newport does for our local economy. One Pembrokeshire haulage firm alone runs 40 lorries each way through the M4 bottle neck each day, with drivers calling it a ‘no go’ area between 7.30am and 10am in the morning and from 4pm to 6.30pm in the afternoon.

“This decision even contradicts the independent public enquiry led by a planning inspector which backed the project. This is a failure of devolution as the Welsh Assembly was supposed to help projects such as this get off the ground.

“I recently held a debate in Parliament about the importance of this project for the wider Welsh economy, so it is very disappointing that Mark Drakeford has dropped it especially as this issue has dragged on for nearly 30 years.”

Full in-depth coverage in The Herald this Friday

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1 Comment

  1. Tomos

    June 8, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Carwyn bottled it, Drakeford bottled it – Welsh businesses will suffer

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Road closed in both directions following collision between car and tractor

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THERE was a collision between a car and a tractor with a trailer at just past 12am today (Friday, June 21).

The road was closed in both directions from St Clears to Carmarthen while emergency services dealt with the incident.

Two men – the driver and passenger of the car – have been taken to hospital. One is in a critical but stable condition.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, who hasn’t already spoken to the police, is asked to contact the serious collision investigation unit at Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.

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Parc Howard shortlisted for national award

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PARC HOWARD has been shortlisted for the prestigious Family Friendly Museum Award.

Charity Kids in Museums awards the prize annually to one museum, gallery, historic home or heritage site in the UK that goes the extra mile to provide a great experience for families.

Throughout April and May, families across the country voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website. It is the only museum award to be judged by families.

A panel of museum experts whittled down over 800 nominations to a shortlist of 15.

The museum will now be visited by undercover family judges who will assess the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. Their experiences will decide a winner for each award category and an overall winner, our Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2019.

The council’s executive board member for cultural services, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “It really is exciting times for Parc Howard Museum. To have been nominated for such a prestigious award is just superb and is testament to the family friendly environment we have been working to create within the museum.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in October.

Emmajane Avery, Chair of Kids in Museums, said: “It’s great to see Parc Howard Museum on the shortlist for this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award. To make it to the shortlist in our most competitive year yet is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work staff have put in to create an enjoyable experience for families. We were inspired by how this ambitious museum works with community organisations to bring the museum to families on a low income. We wish the museum the best of luck in the next round of judging.”

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Trimsaran: Man charged with offences relating to explosives and poisons

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57-year-old man who was arrested at an address in Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire on Tuesday 11 June has been charged with offences relating to explosives and poisons.

Russell Wadge of Baglan Farm, Trimsaran will appear before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday (Jun 19) charged with one offence contrary to section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act of 1883 and four offences contrary section 3 of the Poisons Act 1972.

A police spokesperson told The Herald: “Officers from the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU) supported by Dyfed Powys Police, West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and partner agencies executed a search warrant at an address near Trimsaran where a specialist search took place after chemicals were found at the premises.

“There was no risk to neighbouring properties or to the general public. While a search of the property has concluded, a police cordon remains in place.”

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