M4 relief road plan ‘unlawful’, say green lobbyists
9:48am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in News
THE consultation on a proposed M4 relief road around Newport closed yesterday amid claims from a pressure group that the process was "unlawful" and "fatally flawed".
Friends of the Earth Cymru’s response to the consultation highlights what it believes are serious problems with the Welsh Government’s approach to a scheme to which it is fundamentally opposed.
Meanwhile, Newport Liberal Democrats have come out in favour of the M4 Relief Road, at odds with the party in Wales.
FoE Cymru attacks the proposals, and the Welsh Government, on four issues. It claims that :
• No business case has ever been published for the M4 around Newport;
• Traffic forecasts are hopelessly out of touch with reality;
• The Welsh Government has no statistics for congestion, the very problem it is attempting to address;
• The options did not include the so-called Blue Route, which FoE describes as cheaper and less environmentally damaging than a motorway over the Gwent Levels.
“Traffic in Wales has decreased year after year since 2007, and is now 4.4 per cent lower than it was at its peak," said Foe Cymru director Gareth Clubb.
"A combination of investment in public transport, active travel and some modest road improvements would deliver the government’s aims at a fraction of the cost."
He further claimed the Welsh Government's "failure to consider reasonable alternatives is unlawful" and called for a "fatally flawed" consultation to be withdrawn.
Newport Liberal Democrats meanwhile, want improved public transport to be a key part of the package, alongside an M4 Relief Road.
“By taking through traffic away from the existing M4 and retaining the links into the city from the existing M4, between Magor and Castleton, access to the city would be improved while at the same time easing congestion for through traffic,” they say in their consultation response.
They also reject the suggestion that the Southern Distributor Road and the Llanwern steelworks access road could be used to carry traffic away from the M4.
“It is time to stop messing about with this issue. South Wales needs the M4 Relief Road as soon as possible,” said Ed Townsend, Liberal Democrat councillor in St Julians, Newport.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats favour the Southern Distributor Road option, but councillor Townsend added that while the Newport party respects that view, "we have discussed this at length and believe the interests of Newport and the whole of South Wales are best served by building this M4 link."
Welsh Government officials will now study the consultation responses ahead of further announcements early next year.
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