M4 relief road: Motorway plan scrapping gets mixed reaction

Terry and Janet Clarke
Image caption "People think we're mad for living here," say Terry and Janet Clarke

As politicians and campaigners analyse the decision to scrap the M4 relief road - it is everyday people who live with the repercussions.

The Welsh Government will not build the £1.4bn M4 relief road, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Those living in the path of the proposed route have said the decision is a "huge weight" off their shoulders.

However, people who live in the shadow of Newport's Brynglas tunnels called the decision a "disgrace".

Whether this announcement is good or bad news depends largely upon where you live.

Terry Clarke, of Malpas, has witnessed first-hand the increase in traffic over the past 45 years from his home that overlooks the tunnels.

"I'm disgusted. It's a horrendous decision that has not solved any of the problems," he said.

"The first minister and AMs don't live close to the M4 and don't see the problems we have to live with all the time.

"There are also the motorists who are stuck in traffic every day and lorries stuck in congestion.

"Every time there's congestion is costing business - and Wales - money."

Image caption Motorists often face lengthy delays on the M4

The plans would have seen a 14-mile motorway built as a gateway into south Wales in a bid to tackle the congestion faced by motorists around Newport.

Mr Drakeford axed the scheme because of its cost and impact on the environment, despite a public inquiry concluding the six-lane scheme was "in the public interest".

That decision has frustrated many residents and motorists.

Dave Bird, 64, has lived beside the Brynglas tunnel on Pant Road for more than 30 years.

He said: "How can the Welsh Government spent all that money on a review and then not take the advice of the professionals?

"People in Newport were resigned to the fact that they would find some way of delaying or rejecting the scheme. But what's the alternative?

"If we want south east Wales to develop then there has to be a solution to this bottleneck.

"We will just have to carry on living with it and everyone coming to Wales will continue to be impacted."

But drive - slowly - through the nine miles of traffic and you arrive at the other side of the argument.

Image caption Kennel owner Mandy Jones said closing the business and family home would have been "heartbreaking"

Tonew Kennels in Redwick - home to up to 100 dogs, including strays and abandoned pets - lay almost directly in the path of the proposed route.

Co-owner Mandy Jones is "thrilled" at the ruling.

"We're so excited. We were very concerned that we may have to sell the house and the kennels and go.

"We were brought up here and it's our business as well as our home so it would have been heartbreaking to leave. But now we don't have to.

"It's a huge weight off our shoulders."

Residents in the Monmouthshire village of Magor are also heaving a mighty sigh of relief. For now.

Image caption Villagers feared "two-thirds of Magor would be surrounded by motorway"

This is the third time Welsh ministers have shelved plans for the relief road and the decision breaks a Welsh Labour manifesto pledge from 2016.

Little wonder then that villagers are keeping their celebrations in check.

Keith Poultney said: "It's a huge relief for now - but for how long?

"We've seen the plan scrapped before and it keeps coming back. So who knows what's going to happen in five years' time?

"I know no-one wants these things in their back yard but for us - it really would have been.

"However there is still a major transport problem with the Brynglas tunnels and no obvious solution."

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