THE planned M4 relief road could end up as “a £1 billion car park”, a Labour AM has claimed.

A solution to traffic problems on the motorway around Newport has been in the planning stages for years, with a public inquiry into the project currently underway.

Although the Welsh Government has named the £1.1 billion 'black route', a 14-mile stretch of motorway between Magor and Castleton, bypassing the Brynglas Tunnels, as its preferred solution, speaking in the Senedd this week, Llanelli’s Lee Waters said he was not convinced this was the best way forward.

“We need to fashion a solution that will last, an M4 fit for future generations, and I just don’t believe that the proposed relief road will be anything more than an expensive stop-gap,” he said.

He added he was concerned evidence had shown building new roads did little more than increase traffic.

“We cannot build our way out of this problem. We’ve been trying that for generations and it doesn’t work.

“Traffic builds up, roads, once again, seize up and we rapidly find ourselves back at square one.

“If we’re not careful, we could end up with a £1 billion car park.”

Economy secretary Ken Skates responded: "The existing infrastructure on the M4 around Newport is not fit for purpose.

"That has been our conclusion for some time.

"Piecemeal and useful improvements have been undertaken over time, which will improve the position, including a variable speed limit and modernisation of the Brynglas tunnels, but they’ve only postponed the issue.

"This piece of infrastructure needs a major, long-term upgrade."

The inquiry is also looking at other suggested schemes, including the ‘blue route’, which involves using the Southern Distributor Road.