South East Wales

M4 relief road: Welsh Government bids to buy part of Newport docks

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Media captionThis video reveals the possible route of the M4 relief road

Draft orders to purchase part of Newport docks for the planned M4 relief road have been issued.

The Welsh Government wants to build a £1.1bn stretch of motorway between Magor and Castleton to ease congestion at the Brynglas tunnels in Newport.

Ministers have issued draft compulsory purchase orders for parts of Newport dock - whose owners object the scheme - as an ongoing public inquiry continues.

The Welsh Government hopes building the 14 mile (23km) road will start in 2018.

It has bid to purchase 303 sq m (3,261 sq ft) of the dock's south area, between the Transporter Bridge and landfill site on the A48 Southern Distributor Road.

The M4 relief road key points:

  • The Welsh Government wants to build a £1.1bn six-lane motorway to the south of Newport
  • The 14 mile (23km) highway will be between the current M4 junction 23A at Magor to junction 29 near Castleton
  • The Welsh Government plans to begin construction in 2018 and open the new road in 2021
  • It said the current M4 around Newport, opened in 1967, "does not meet modern motorway design standards"
  • Environmental campaigners and local residents claim the scheme will devastate the ancient marshlands of the Gwent Levels and four sites of special scientific interest
  • There have been 335 formal objections, compared to 192 letters of support
  • A public local inquiry started in February and will reconvene on 19 September

The CPO said that the land would be used for building a "special road" in the Pill area of Newport and the "provision of new means of access" to the M4 project.

The Welsh Government's plan is for the new relief road to be built across a 25m (82ft) high flyover over the River Usk and the dock, the UK's second biggest steel-handling port which supports 3,000 jobs.

Image copyright BBC/Google

Associated British Ports has previously said its Newport operation was worth £186m a year to the local economy and the new motorway would "effectively cut the port in two".

"It would take more than 80 acres of land from us - about 20% of the space we've got to handle current business and where we want to further develop in the future," Matthew Kennerley, ABP director for south Wales, said in April.

"The motorway would come in through the centre of the port at a height of 25m, that means the ships entering the north dock would be restricted in their air draught - so about 50% of the vessels would not be able to go there in the future."

The Welsh Government told a public inquiry the economic benefit of an M4 relief road will outweigh its £1.1bn cost by two-to-one.

Traffic data also showed the M4 around the Brynglas tunnels traffic hotspot is the most-congested stretch of inner city motorway in the UK away from the M25 around London.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Further to collaborative and productive liaison with stakeholders, this supplementary order proposes a revised configuration of the quayside in Newport Docks to accommodate the M4 project.

"The supplementary order allows all to express their views before the independent inspectors scrutinises the evidence on it at the ongoing public inquiry.

"Following receipt of the inspectors' report a final decision can be made on whether to proceed with construction of the M4 project."

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