AN ANTI-M4 tunnel expansion campaigner said news that there may have to be another consultation on proposals to improve the motorway was an “absolute joke”.
Last year the Welsh Government held a consultation exercise into options to reduce congestion on the motorway, including one plan that could have seen homes in central Newport bulldozed and extra tunnels built at Brynglas.
Work on the possible improvements has cost around £871,000 since 2010, with £485,000 spent on consultation work and £386,000 on assessing 100 potential measures. But Friends of the Earth Cymru (FoE) and Gwent Wildlife Trust say that the Welsh Government has admitted that its original consultation was inadequate after a lawyer’s letter said an environmental report has not taken place.
Jo Sweeney, of Campaign Against Additional Tunnel who lives in Brynglas, Newport, said people were being kept in the dark.
“This is an absolute joke,” she told the Argus. “It’s people’s lives that they are playing with here.”
From March until July last year residents in Newport were quizzed on four options – including building a new tunnel at Brynglas for £550 million or a relief road south of Newport for £830 million.
But in November the Welsh Government held a further month-long consultation on an environmental report into the proposals.
The FoE argued in a legal challenge that the consultation process had failed to comply with Welsh Government regulations.
A lawyer for the Welsh Government wrote back saying it had not yet provided an environmental report despite the one for consultation in November. He said ministers are in the process of deciding whether or not to formulate a draft plan.
It admitted there was “confusion” and said there will be further opportunity for consultation on both the draft plan and the environmental report.
Gareth Clubb, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, claimed the Welsh Government’s own lawyers have declared the consultation “inadequate”. He said a “tremendous amount of money” has been wasted.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Welsh Government is following due process and responses received from the consultation exercise will assist in determining the way forward.”