M4 relief road: 90 businesses call for decision

Artist's impression of part of M4 relief road Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption An artist's impression of part of the M4 relief road project

Dozens of businesses and council leaders have called on the Welsh Government to press ahead with the £1.4bn M4 relief road around Newport.

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

The Welsh Government said "necessary due diligence is ongoing".

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

It will be considered by new First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The latest call to press ahead with the 14-mile (23km) project involves a statement signed by 90 business figures and council leaders in Newport, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Ian Price, CBI Wales director, said it was not just a collection of names but people who "have their finger on the pulse of the Welsh economy".

He said it was not a grand road scheme "but a long overdue repair job of a vital economic artery".

Mr Price added that the impact of mothballing another infrastructure project in Wales would be "devastating" and that a toll road should be one option looked at.

"While no-one's first choice is a toll road, especially after we've only just successfully removed the tolls on the Severn Bridges, if the choice really comes down to 'no road or a toll road' then all options should be considered," said Mr Price.

Earlier, one of the UK's largest hauliers accused the Welsh Government of "looking for reasons" not to build the road.

Representatives from the Owens Group - who have also signed the statement - said ministers were "stalling for time".

BBC Wales understands officials at Traffic Wales recently said they had "no insight whatsoever" on plans for the road.

Image caption Ian Jarman said the decision needs to be made

Ian Jarman, a manager at the Owens Group and vice chairman of the Welsh Freight Council, told BBC Wales a decision needed to be made for the good of road users and the freight industry.

He said: "The Welsh Government have dragged their feet for a long time on this.

"I believe they are stalling for time and don't want to build the relief road, they are looking for reasons not to build the relief road.

"The decision has to be made, this is holding back the Welsh economy."

The Welsh Government is proposing building a road between Magor and Castleton, to the south of Newport.

It would include a bridge across the River Usk, as well as major remodelling of junctions 23 and 29 of the M4.

BBC Wales understands officials at Traffic Wales recently told a meeting of hauliers they were waiting for ministers to make a decision.

There is no suggestion they would be involved in the planning process.

The Welsh Government previously said officials were analysing a report from a public inquiry into the planned relief road, and a decision will be made when advice has been prepared.

Assembly members have been promised a vote in the Senedd, and there remains cross-party political opposition to the route.

Hundreds of people attended a demonstration outside the Senedd in December to oppose the road.

Conservationists say it would be a "direct attack" on "Wales' own Amazon rainforest", the Gwent Levels.

The Welsh Government said: "Necessary due diligence is ongoing on what would be a significant infrastructure investment for Wales."

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