New concerns over Newport M4 relief road

New concerns over Newport M4 relief road

New concerns over Newport M4 relief road

First published in News
Last updated
South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

A NUMBER of concerns have been raised about plans to build a £1 billion M4 relief road to ease traffic congestion around Newport.

In a letter to the Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart, chairman of the Environment and Sustainability Committee of the National Assembly, Alun Ffred Jones AM, doubted the lack of attention given to alternative solutions to the three options under consideration.

Mr Jones also said experts questioned whether the three options assessed as part of the consultation on the M4 corridor around Newport are “sufficiently distinct enough to allow for meaningful comparison”.

The letter also raised environmental and financial issues. It said Natural Resources Wales believes the potential impact on biodiversity should be seen as a “major negative” and not a “minor negative”, as initially set out by a Welsh Government environmental assessment.

Plaid Cymru AM Mr Jones set out a number of questions to Ms Hart, and said he wanted a response by Friday.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The Minister has received the letter and will respond directly to the committee chair in due course.”

The Federation of Small Businesses Wales, which gave evidence to the Environment and Sustainability Committee’s inquiry, said they were “keen to see the Economy, Science and Transport Minister’s response to this letter, and the many questions that it raises, by the committee’s Friday deadline”.

Meanwhile, Plaid said an “innovative” plan is needed for an M4 relief road, and that money needs to be saved in order to invest in transport links across Wales.

Shadow Economy Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM will this week lead an Assembly debate calling for the Welsh Government to rule out its plan for a new M4 to the south of Newport - the so-called “black route”- on environmental and value-for-money grounds, and to instead upgrade the existing A48 corridor; the so-called “blue route”.

The cost of the “black route” is put at almost £1 billion, whereas the cost of the “blue route” is around £380 million.

Mr ap Iorwerth AM said: “Plaid Cymru wants to keep the South Wales economy moving by investing in the Blue Route proposals around Newport. This would be a significant and exciting boost to the economy around the city, and would give traffic an alternative route when the M4 becomes too congested. It is a high-quality proposal which would deliver a huge infrastructure boost to Newport.”

Responding to the letter by Mr Jones, Conservative AM for South Wales East William Graham said: “Strangely interesting that a Plaid chair of a committee should raise this issue when it is the subject of a scheduled Plaid debate tomorrow afternoon.

“The blue route is already discredited. It has nine roundabouts, six sets of traffic lights, will serve 4,000 new homes and provide access to the remaining industrial complex of Tata Steel. Environmentally it is no better a solution.

“Broadly, the ‘purple route’ was adopted over 20 years ago, and if the Conservatives had not lost the 1997 General Election we would be driving along an M4 relief road today.

“Thanks to the Conservative-led coalition government funds will be made available to the Welsh Government to make this a real statement of intent that Wales is open for business.”

M4 Relief options

South Wales Argus:

BLUE ROUTE:

Using existing road alongside Llanwern steelworks and the SDR.

This alternative was proposed by University of South Wales academic Professor Stuart Cole and has been supported by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

The plan involves improving and widening the Southern Distributor Road (SDR) to the south of Newport, which was opened to traffic in December 2004.

The Institute for Welsh Affairs (IWA) has said upgrading the SDR and building another road through the city’s former steelworks is an “affordable” £380 million alternative to the Welsh Government’s plan, which could cost more than £1 billion.

BLACK ROUTE:

Three-lane motorway between junction 23 at Magor and junction 29 at Castleton.

PURPLE AND RED ROUTES:

Same as black route but with different routes through Duffryn

Comments (23)

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12:35pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Abertillery29 says...

Here we go again. Politicians arguing over a road that should have been finished at least 10 years ago. How much more investment is going to be lost before work is even started? Yet again Wales is suffering because of the inability of the Assembly to make decisions and they keep going on about increasing their powers when they can't deal with the ones they have.
Here we go again. Politicians arguing over a road that should have been finished at least 10 years ago. How much more investment is going to be lost before work is even started? Yet again Wales is suffering because of the inability of the Assembly to make decisions and they keep going on about increasing their powers when they can't deal with the ones they have. Abertillery29
  • Score: 44

1:09pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

Abertillery29 wrote:
Here we go again. Politicians arguing over a road that should have been finished at least 10 years ago. How much more investment is going to be lost before work is even started? Yet again Wales is suffering because of the inability of the Assembly to make decisions and they keep going on about increasing their powers when they can't deal with the ones they have.
Very well said.
[quote][p][bold]Abertillery29[/bold] wrote: Here we go again. Politicians arguing over a road that should have been finished at least 10 years ago. How much more investment is going to be lost before work is even started? Yet again Wales is suffering because of the inability of the Assembly to make decisions and they keep going on about increasing their powers when they can't deal with the ones they have.[/p][/quote]Very well said. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 24

1:14pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

But, would you believe that a recent poll intimated that a majority of Welsh now think that the Assembly is a good thing?
Good in what way?
Shambolic and a total waste of money, elected on a dubious vote engineered by the then Labour Party under Tony B Liar.
That ensured that Wales would be a socialist republic for ever.
Says it all really.
But, would you believe that a recent poll intimated that a majority of Welsh now think that the Assembly is a good thing? Good in what way? Shambolic and a total waste of money, elected on a dubious vote engineered by the then Labour Party under Tony B Liar. That ensured that Wales would be a socialist republic for ever. Says it all really. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 20

1:29pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Llanmartinangel says...

Cymru Am Beth wrote:
But, would you believe that a recent poll intimated that a majority of Welsh now think that the Assembly is a good thing?
Good in what way?
Shambolic and a total waste of money, elected on a dubious vote engineered by the then Labour Party under Tony B Liar.
That ensured that Wales would be a socialist republic for ever.
Says it all really.
Yes indeed. And more news today of Wales' kids lagging behind their neighbours over Offa's Dyke in English. The race to the bottom continues. Proof that you can sell stupid people anything.
[quote][p][bold]Cymru Am Beth[/bold] wrote: But, would you believe that a recent poll intimated that a majority of Welsh now think that the Assembly is a good thing? Good in what way? Shambolic and a total waste of money, elected on a dubious vote engineered by the then Labour Party under Tony B Liar. That ensured that Wales would be a socialist republic for ever. Says it all really.[/p][/quote]Yes indeed. And more news today of Wales' kids lagging behind their neighbours over Offa's Dyke in English. The race to the bottom continues. Proof that you can sell stupid people anything. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 11

1:53pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Woodgnome says...

Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does.

What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels?

Either proposal will take a month of Sundays.
Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does. What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels? Either proposal will take a month of Sundays. Woodgnome
  • Score: -16

3:07pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Oldnightrun says...

Why don't forget all about improving access into and out of Wales and go back to living in caves. Because if we listen to these penny pinching bunch of idiots that are trying to destroy the Welsh economy, that is what we may as well do.
Why don't forget all about improving access into and out of Wales and go back to living in caves. Because if we listen to these penny pinching bunch of idiots that are trying to destroy the Welsh economy, that is what we may as well do. Oldnightrun
  • Score: 21

3:16pm Tue 17 Jun 14

pjwivell says...

Well this means that the proposed relief road will take a lot longer. And as for the Blue route That's a total waste of time effort and money, I bet Woodgnome hasn't spent three hours on the Distributor road because the motorways blocked and the Distributor road is totally gridlocked.!! That road its ok for local traffic but as a Relief road it's useless. The Relief Motorway should go where it's been planned at least twenty years ago it's a Relief Road Not an Additional Traffic Jam. There might be a bit of inconvenience in and around the levels but when the Relief road is finished things will get back to normal but more so The Welsh industry that depend on the Motorway can also get back to normal.
Well this means that the proposed relief road will take a lot longer. And as for the Blue route That's a total waste of time effort and money, I bet Woodgnome hasn't spent three hours on the Distributor road because the motorways blocked and the Distributor road is totally gridlocked.!! That road its ok for local traffic but as a Relief road it's useless. The Relief Motorway should go where it's been planned at least twenty years ago it's a Relief Road Not an Additional Traffic Jam. There might be a bit of inconvenience in and around the levels but when the Relief road is finished things will get back to normal but more so The Welsh industry that depend on the Motorway can also get back to normal. pjwivell
  • Score: 16

3:36pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Thomas O'Malley says...

Woodgnome wrote:
Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does.

What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels?

Either proposal will take a month of Sundays.
changing local roads through residential areas to be a 2 lane dual carriageway will be years of disruption, more wasted money and won't solve the problem. I can't believe anyone still doesn't understand that. I for one have lost faith in the WAG one this issue alone. For goodness sake stop talking and get the relief road built.
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does. What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels? Either proposal will take a month of Sundays.[/p][/quote]changing local roads through residential areas to be a 2 lane dual carriageway will be years of disruption, more wasted money and won't solve the problem. I can't believe anyone still doesn't understand that. I for one have lost faith in the WAG one this issue alone. For goodness sake stop talking and get the relief road built. Thomas O'Malley
  • Score: 15

3:54pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Walter Devereux says...

Thomas O'Malley wrote:
Woodgnome wrote:
Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does.

What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels?

Either proposal will take a month of Sundays.
changing local roads through residential areas to be a 2 lane dual carriageway will be years of disruption, more wasted money and won't solve the problem. I can't believe anyone still doesn't understand that. I for one have lost faith in the WAG one this issue alone. For goodness sake stop talking and get the relief road built.
It already is a two-lane dual carriageway. i cannot for the life of me calculate what £380 million is for? A bit of grade separation here and there? On-line upgrades are usually hugely more expensive than new alignments, so what they would end up with will be very much inferior.
[quote][p][bold]Thomas O'Malley[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Probably right to challenge everything Edwina says and does. What's wrong with the blue route anyway if it avoids digging up half the levels? Either proposal will take a month of Sundays.[/p][/quote]changing local roads through residential areas to be a 2 lane dual carriageway will be years of disruption, more wasted money and won't solve the problem. I can't believe anyone still doesn't understand that. I for one have lost faith in the WAG one this issue alone. For goodness sake stop talking and get the relief road built.[/p][/quote]It already is a two-lane dual carriageway. i cannot for the life of me calculate what £380 million is for? A bit of grade separation here and there? On-line upgrades are usually hugely more expensive than new alignments, so what they would end up with will be very much inferior. Walter Devereux
  • Score: 10

4:43pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Woodgnome says...

pjwivell wrote:
Well this means that the proposed relief road will take a lot longer. And as for the Blue route That's a total waste of time effort and money, I bet Woodgnome hasn't spent three hours on the Distributor road because the motorways blocked and the Distributor road is totally gridlocked.!! That road its ok for local traffic but as a Relief road it's useless. The Relief Motorway should go where it's been planned at least twenty years ago it's a Relief Road Not an Additional Traffic Jam. There might be a bit of inconvenience in and around the levels but when the Relief road is finished things will get back to normal but more so The Welsh industry that depend on the Motorway can also get back to normal.
In fact pvw I have spent many hours on those gridlocked roads so you are quire wrong. The options proposed were hardly options at all and it was inevitable the debate would be reopened. Political ineptitude has put us where we are today and there will be no quick fix.
[quote][p][bold]pjwivell[/bold] wrote: Well this means that the proposed relief road will take a lot longer. And as for the Blue route That's a total waste of time effort and money, I bet Woodgnome hasn't spent three hours on the Distributor road because the motorways blocked and the Distributor road is totally gridlocked.!! That road its ok for local traffic but as a Relief road it's useless. The Relief Motorway should go where it's been planned at least twenty years ago it's a Relief Road Not an Additional Traffic Jam. There might be a bit of inconvenience in and around the levels but when the Relief road is finished things will get back to normal but more so The Welsh industry that depend on the Motorway can also get back to normal.[/p][/quote]In fact pvw I have spent many hours on those gridlocked roads so you are quire wrong. The options proposed were hardly options at all and it was inevitable the debate would be reopened. Political ineptitude has put us where we are today and there will be no quick fix. Woodgnome
  • Score: 1

5:39pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Magor says...

There is no way Wales could survive on its own so lets scrap the WAG.Its a waste of time and money.Everything they touch goes downhill.Look how long the Brynglas tunnels have been damaged and now they want to spend millions "improving" them.How on earth will they ever get this road built? It wont be long before Cardiff Airport closes down.
There is no way Wales could survive on its own so lets scrap the WAG.Its a waste of time and money.Everything they touch goes downhill.Look how long the Brynglas tunnels have been damaged and now they want to spend millions "improving" them.How on earth will they ever get this road built? It wont be long before Cardiff Airport closes down. Magor
  • Score: 12

7:59pm Tue 17 Jun 14

keithbob says...

waste of time posting about this long drawn out topic,if and when it ever gets done i will be long gone,i feel for my kids and grandchildren with these clowns that run our country.
waste of time posting about this long drawn out topic,if and when it ever gets done i will be long gone,i feel for my kids and grandchildren with these clowns that run our country. keithbob
  • Score: 8

9:28pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Vauxfiat says...

Lets get this into perpsective.
Monday:- Part of Newport closed off due to alleged bomb incident. Traffic reported as building up and causing a knock on affect. An accident on the M4 causing gridlock coming into Wales
Tuesday:- M4 affected by an accident at J32 Coryton Westbound with traffic buiding up to J30. If we had a relief road, surely an easy diversion could be put in place couldn't it?
Congestion on a daily basis at the Brynglas Tunnels both directions
The sooner the better I think.
Lets get this into perpsective. Monday:- Part of Newport closed off due to alleged bomb incident. Traffic reported as building up and causing a knock on affect. An accident on the M4 causing gridlock coming into Wales Tuesday:- M4 affected by an accident at J32 Coryton Westbound with traffic buiding up to J30. If we had a relief road, surely an easy diversion could be put in place couldn't it? Congestion on a daily basis at the Brynglas Tunnels both directions The sooner the better I think. Vauxfiat
  • Score: 11

11:48pm Tue 17 Jun 14

charlie, newport says...

Please Edwina, just get on with building the black route. You will never ever satisfy the bugs and bunnies brigade. Indeed the blue route that they now support is based on the very road (Eastern Distributor Road) that Gwent Wildlife Trust and Natural Resources Wales were objecting to.
Please Edwina, just get on with building the black route. You will never ever satisfy the bugs and bunnies brigade. Indeed the blue route that they now support is based on the very road (Eastern Distributor Road) that Gwent Wildlife Trust and Natural Resources Wales were objecting to. charlie, newport
  • Score: 11

12:00am Wed 18 Jun 14

Ollie254 says...

Don't listen to the environmentalists or greens they merely halt or hold back progress. Build the road, it is vital for Wales......the M4 is the very lifeblood of South, West and Mid Wales. Just make a decision and get on with it !
Don't listen to the environmentalists or greens they merely halt or hold back progress. Build the road, it is vital for Wales......the M4 is the very lifeblood of South, West and Mid Wales. Just make a decision and get on with it ! Ollie254
  • Score: 11

8:50am Wed 18 Jun 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

Magor wrote:
There is no way Wales could survive on its own so lets scrap the WAG.Its a waste of time and money.Everything they touch goes downhill.Look how long the Brynglas tunnels have been damaged and now they want to spend millions "improving" them.How on earth will they ever get this road built? It wont be long before Cardiff Airport closes down.
Unfortunately, I think that we are stuck with the WAG, too many vested interests and 'snouts in the trough' to initiate any change.
My greatest fear (and one of the main reasons I voted against it) is that they are going to have to get the money from somewhere to fund their incompetence.
Being heavily welfare dependent, the only route to go down is that of higher taxes.
If they get extended tax raising powers, we in Wales could find ourselves being taxed at a considerably higher rate than in England.
[quote][p][bold]Magor[/bold] wrote: There is no way Wales could survive on its own so lets scrap the WAG.Its a waste of time and money.Everything they touch goes downhill.Look how long the Brynglas tunnels have been damaged and now they want to spend millions "improving" them.How on earth will they ever get this road built? It wont be long before Cardiff Airport closes down.[/p][/quote]Unfortunately, I think that we are stuck with the WAG, too many vested interests and 'snouts in the trough' to initiate any change. My greatest fear (and one of the main reasons I voted against it) is that they are going to have to get the money from somewhere to fund their incompetence. Being heavily welfare dependent, the only route to go down is that of higher taxes. If they get extended tax raising powers, we in Wales could find ourselves being taxed at a considerably higher rate than in England. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 4

8:57am Wed 18 Jun 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

Ollie254 wrote:
Don't listen to the environmentalists or greens they merely halt or hold back progress. Build the road, it is vital for Wales......the M4 is the very lifeblood of South, West and Mid Wales. Just make a decision and get on with it !
Spot on.
Wales desperately needs this to go ahead.
Nero's 'fiddling while Rome burned' comes to mind when this topic comes up.
It appears from people's comments so far, that this is something that we are all agreed upon and wish to happen soon.
So why don't they just b****y get on with it?
[quote][p][bold]Ollie254[/bold] wrote: Don't listen to the environmentalists or greens they merely halt or hold back progress. Build the road, it is vital for Wales......the M4 is the very lifeblood of South, West and Mid Wales. Just make a decision and get on with it ![/p][/quote]Spot on. Wales desperately needs this to go ahead. Nero's 'fiddling while Rome burned' comes to mind when this topic comes up. It appears from people's comments so far, that this is something that we are all agreed upon and wish to happen soon. So why don't they just b****y get on with it? Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 6

11:04am Wed 18 Jun 14

Crossbenchtory says...

At the risk of introducing some sanity and rationality into the argument, not the generally done thing in Welsh political circles I know, has anyone thought about building a motorway off the M48 and running between Cwmbran and Pontypool (or further north) and linking back onto the M4 at the A48(M) junction?

This would not only relieve congestion around Newport but could potentially open up access to Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent for industry and jobs, surely a desirable thing?

Why is this option not on the table?
At the risk of introducing some sanity and rationality into the argument, not the generally done thing in Welsh political circles I know, has anyone thought about building a motorway off the M48 and running between Cwmbran and Pontypool (or further north) and linking back onto the M4 at the A48(M) junction? This would not only relieve congestion around Newport but could potentially open up access to Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent for industry and jobs, surely a desirable thing? Why is this option not on the table? Crossbenchtory
  • Score: -2

1:45pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Good Job No Kids says...

I'm afraid Alun will have just have to get over it. The new M4 is happening, contracts for consultancy have already been awarded.

This fool who has no knowledge of the history or engineering required does not even live remotely near Newport with his office listed in Caernarfon!

Seriously, who votes for these imbeciles?
I'm afraid Alun will have just have to get over it. The new M4 is happening, contracts for consultancy have already been awarded. This fool who has no knowledge of the history or engineering required does not even live remotely near Newport with his office listed in Caernarfon! Seriously, who votes for these imbeciles? Good Job No Kids
  • Score: 4

3:52pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Woodgnome says...

I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels.
I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels. Woodgnome
  • Score: -2

4:55pm Wed 18 Jun 14

NakedDancer says...

Woodgnome wrote:
I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels.
You are seriously missing the point. a) the new M4 (relief road) would be a 3 lane motorway with fewer, properly engineered junctions and no road narrowing at the tunnels so it would significantly reduce incidents and b) when there was an incident on the new M4 (relief road) there would be an alternative high capacity route via the existing M4.
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels.[/p][/quote]You are seriously missing the point. a) the new M4 (relief road) would be a 3 lane motorway with fewer, properly engineered junctions and no road narrowing at the tunnels so it would significantly reduce incidents and b) when there was an incident on the new M4 (relief road) there would be an alternative high capacity route via the existing M4. NakedDancer
  • Score: 5

5:39pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Woodgnome says...

NakedDancer wrote:
Woodgnome wrote:
I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels.
You are seriously missing the point. a) the new M4 (relief road) would be a 3 lane motorway with fewer, properly engineered junctions and no road narrowing at the tunnels so it would significantly reduce incidents and b) when there was an incident on the new M4 (relief road) there would be an alternative high capacity route via the existing M4.
Oh I see, how silly of me.

Shall we discuss the M25 which has all the features you describe?
[quote][p][bold]NakedDancer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: I doubt that the relief road would have made any difference to the horrific queues experienced in the last couple of days due to an accident and a broken down van the Tredegar Park side of the tunnels.[/p][/quote]You are seriously missing the point. a) the new M4 (relief road) would be a 3 lane motorway with fewer, properly engineered junctions and no road narrowing at the tunnels so it would significantly reduce incidents and b) when there was an incident on the new M4 (relief road) there would be an alternative high capacity route via the existing M4.[/p][/quote]Oh I see, how silly of me. Shall we discuss the M25 which has all the features you describe? Woodgnome
  • Score: -3

6:10pm Wed 18 Jun 14

-trigg- says...

Just build the **** thing and let the environmentalists complain afterwards
Just build the **** thing and let the environmentalists complain afterwards -trigg-
  • Score: 0

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