THE new M4 will be an early priority for Welsh Government borrowing of up to £500 million if ministers decide to press ahead, Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt said today.
Ms Hutt, announcing £1 billion in investments, told AMs in the Senedd that a decision on the controversial M4 Relief Road consultation is due this summer.
She also confirmed that £300 million will be raised from private finance to finish dualling of the Heads of the Valleys Road.
The project will be funded through a new scheme that will limit the amount of profit that can be made.
She told AMs that the Welsh Government would make “full use” of the £500 million that ministers will be able to borrow as a result of the Wales Bill, currently passing through the UK Parliament.
Ms Hutt said: "The results of a consultation on the major enhancement of the M4 around Newport are currently being considered and a decision is expected this summer.
“Once a decision has been made it will feature as an early priority for deployment of our direct borrowing powers.”
The new M4 is thought to cost more than £1 billion and it wasn’t clear on Tuesday how the whole project would be funded if it went ahead.
However the Welsh Government could opt to build a cheaper road – such as the so-called Blue Route which would see the A48 upgraded and that is thought could cost £380 million.
Ms Hutt announced that £300 million would be raised to fund dualling on the A465 between Dowlais Top and Hirwaun.
A new “innovative” finance model will be used that will allow institutional investors to invest and allow an agreed market rate of return, but any profit above that would be capped and returned to the Welsh Government.
Dualling schemes to the east of Hirwaun are already funded.
Some £210 million would also be raised to build a new Specialist Cancer Care Centre at the Velindre through a similar finance model.
Finance minister Ms Hutt said: “The £1billion infrastructure investment that I have announced today represents a vital injection of investment at a time when the economy and our health services most need it.
“It reflects this Welsh Government’s desire to use the full range of its resources to boost investment. We are providing a reasoned, affordable and desirable alternative to the austerity measures that would choke off investment had we not acted decisively. "